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Full text of "Reference Series Volume 9 Issue 2"

The Complete 
Guide To Using 




Buy & Sell 

Safely & Securely 






Navigate 
eBay.com 



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Find The 

Items 

You Want 



Bid & 
Win Auctions 




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Use PayPal 



SetUp 
Your Own 
Auctions 



Stay Safe 
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The Complete Guide To Using eBay table of contents 



REFERENCE SERIES VOL. 9 ISS. 2 



eBay and the eBay logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks 
of eBay Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. The Reference 
Series: The Complete Guide To Using eBay is not published in con- 
junction with eBay, and it has not been endorsed or sponsored by eBay. 
The use of the eBay trademark in this publication does not represent 
participation in, or endorsement of this publication by eBay. 

Online auction powerhouse eBay is more than just a rela- 
tively new way to buy and sell goods and services; with 
more than 100 million registered users from all around 
the globe, it has become a cultural phenomenon. No matter what 
you're looking for, from everyday household items and collectibles 
to cars and real estate, chances are good you'll find it on eBay With 
so much to see and do, though, eBay can be a bit daunting to the 
first-time visitor, and even seasoned auction vets run into questions 
on occasion. That's why we've packed this guide with dozens of 
articles that will help you feel at home on eBay whether you're a 
novice or an advanced eBayer. In these pages, you'll learn how to 
start your own eBay account, how to find the things you want and 
buy them, how to sell effectively using individual auctions or your 
very own eBay store, and much, much more. 



Quick Guides 



4 Basics Of The Buy 

The Bare Essentials Of 
Purchasing Products Through eBay 



38 Come Together 

Get To Know Your Cyber 
Neighbors At The eBay Community 



41 The Whole Wide World 

Broaden Your Horizons With 
eBay's International Sites 

43 Set Up Shop 

An Introduction To eBay Stores 



44 Membership Has Its Privileges 

The eBay Registration Process 

47 What Have I Just Signed Up For? 

Understanding The eBay User Agreement 

48 A Place To Call Your Own 

Rearrange Your My eBay Page Anyway You Want 




Buying 



52 Buying Rules & Etiquette 

Do's & Don'ts For The eBay Buyer 

55 Treasure Hunt 

Find What You're After 



58 Wading Through It All 

Using eBay's Categories To Your Advantage 




8 Sell, Sell, Sell 

Start Selling On eBay Quickly 

12 Online Autos 

Take Your Pick From eBay Motors 

16 Bid-Free Bargains 

eBay's Sister Site Half.com Sells At Fixed Prices 

20 FAQs 

101 Common Questions & 
Answers About Using eBay 



All About eBay 



30 The World's Online Marketplace 

Supply & Demand Go Global On eBay 

34 Small World, Huge Web Site 

An Organized User Interface 
Helps Users Find It, Buy It, Or Sell It 



62 Learn To Speak eBay 

Abbreviations, Acronyms & 

Icons Are The Key To Smart Bidding 

65 Carpe Auction 

The Ins & Outs Of Successful Bidding On eBay 

68 The Right Tool For Tracking 

Keep Track Of Auctions With The eBay Toolbar 



72 How To Pay For Items On eBay 

It's Time To Pony Up 

74 How To Use PayPal 

eBay's Payment Service Is Fast & Easy 

77 The Escrow Advantage 

Escrow.com Protects Your eBay Transactions 

80 Diamonds In The Rough 

Check Out How We Did On These Auctions 



' 




84 Buyer's Bonanza 

True Tales Of Great Deals & Super Swindles 



136 DoYouKnowWholAm? 

Prove Your Identity With ID Verify 




88 The Smart Shopper 

Use eBay's Buyer's Tools To Get What You Want— Fast 



Selling 



89 Follow The Rules For Sales Success 

Keep Your Customers Happy 
By Following eBay's Policies 



1 37 Seek Out The Specialist 

Use eBay's Expert Opinions To 
Accurately Price Your Wares 

Advanced eBay 



1 38 Rev Up Your eBay Reputation 

How To Endear Yourself To Fellow eBayers 



m 




95 Not Quite Everything Under The Sun 

A Look At What You Can't Sell 

97 How To List Auctions 

Putting Your Treasures Up For Bid 

101 Make An Impression 

How To Set Up End Of Auction Emails 

102 Shape Up & Ship Out 

Packing & Shipping Your Product 



105 Close The Deal 

Get Paid For Your Sale & Avoid Disputes 

108 The Ins & Outs Of Selling Online 

We Set Up Shop As A New eBay Seller 

112 Real-Life Sellers' Tales 

Online Auctioneers Share Their Stories 

1 1 6 Tools Of The Trade 

Sell Smart With eBay's Help 

Safety & Security 

117 Safety First 

Know The Risks Before You Buy Or Sell 

122 Focus On Feedback 

The Vital But Imperfect Linchpin Of eBay 



125 When Problems Occur 

Responding To Transaction Disputes 

On eBay & How To Avoid Them In The First Place 



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142 eBay's Elite 

What It Takes To Become A PowerSeller 

1 44 From The Auction Block To Your Own Storefront 

Set Up Shop With eBay Stores 



149 Setting Up Your Store 

Get Your Empire Off To A Good Start 

155 Taking Care Of Business 

Track eBay Activity With Sales Reports 

159 How To Manage Bulk Listings 

Sell Hundreds Of Products 
Without Losing Your Marbles 



165 Cash In On Co-op Advertising 

Big-Time Sellers Save While Promoting Their Products 

1 67 Search Words Are Key 

Use eBay's Keywords To Target Your Audience 

169 Deals On Wheels 

Track Online Auctions Without Wires 




)ther eBay Sites 



1 71 Hop On To Half.com 

Great Deals, Bid-Free 

174 BuyOnHalf.com 

Find Popular Products At Great Prices 

178 Sell on Half.com 

An Easy Way To Peddle Your Products 



130 When Good Deals Go Bad 

SquareTrade Ensures Fair Trade 



1 82 Keep On Trucking 

eBay Motors Kicks Car Sales Into High Gear 



133 PayPal Protection For Buyers & Sellers 

A Safe Way To Send Money Through The Mail 



184 Buying On eBay Motors 

Find The Right Ride 




188 From Highway To Information Superhighway 

Sell On eBay Motors 

More Tools & Features 



1 92 Checking The Pulse 

Probe eBay Trends From Many Angles 

193 Back To School 

eBay University Offers Classes For Those Who Want To Learn More 

1 94 Warranty Services 

Know Costs, Risks & Protections Before You Bid 

195 Equipment Financing 

Evaluate Online Finance Terms Carefully 

1 96 Let The Experts Handle Your Auction 

Trading Assistant Program Lets eBay "Pros" Help Novices 

1 98 Become An eBay Affiliate 

Your Web Site Can Earn Commissions From eBay 

1 99 The eBay Merchant Kit 

Use Your Web Site To Auction Items On eBay 

201 The eBay Anything Points Program 

eBay Attempts To Buy Shopper Loyalty With Rewards Program 

203 The eBay Business Marketplace 

Online Auction Giant Offers Opportunities For Businesses 

205 Expand Your Horizons 

Buy & Sell Internationally With eBay 

208 Manage Your Listings 

Third-Party Tools Help Sell Your Products Quickly 

21 1 Third-Party Sales Tools 

Enhance Your eBay Success 

21 7 Third-Party Buying Tools 

A Win Is In The Bag 

223 Tools & Resources For Developers 

The eBay "Platform" 

224 Only On eBay 

Wild, Wacky Tales From The World Of Online Auctions 



Editorial Staff: Ronald D. Kobler/ 
Christopher Trumble / Michael Sweet / Samit 
Gupta Choudhuri / Corey Russman / Rod 
Scher / Calvin Clinchard / Katie Sommer / 
Kimberly Fitzke / Katie Dolan / Blaine Flamig / 
Raejean Brooks / Rebecca Christensen / Tara 
Weber / Sally Curran / Nate Hoppe / Jennifer 
Suggitt / Trista Kunce / Sheila Allen / Linne 
Ourada / Liz Dixon / Joy Martin / Ryan Syrek / 
Brian Weed / Sarie Whitson / Marty Sems / 
Chad Denton / Nathan Chandler/ Kylee 
Dickey / Josh Gulick / Andrew Leibman / 
Vince Cogley / Sam Evans / Jennifer Johnson 
Web Staff: Missy Fletcher / Dorene Krausnick/ 
Nick Ray /Laura Curry 

Customer Service: Brandie Humphrey / Becky 
Rezabek / Lana Matic / Lindsay Albers 
Subscription Renewals: Liz Kohout/ Connie 
Beatty / Matt Boiling / Patrick Kean / Charmaine 
Vondra / Miden Ebert / Kathy DeCoito / Stephanie 
Contreras/ Nicole Buckendahl /Travis Brock 
Art & Design: Lesa Call / Fred Schneider / Carrie 
Benes / Ginger Riley / Sonja Warner / Leigh 
Trompke /Aaron Weston /Aaron Clark/ Kelli 
Lambertsen / Lori Garris / Jason Codr / Andria 
Schultz / Erin Rodriguez / Lindsay Anker 
Newsstand: Garth Lienemann / Kelly Richardson 
/ Chris McGreer / Jeff Schnittker 
Advertising Sales: Grant Ossenkop / Cindy 
Pieper / Brooke Wolzen / Eric Cobb / Emily 
Getzschman 

Marketing: Mark Peery / Marcy Gunn /Amber 
Coffin / Jen Clausen / Scot Banks / Ashley 
Hannant/LukeVavricek 

Copyright 2005 by Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights 
reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in Smart Computing 
REFERENCE SERIES: Guide To Using eBay is strictly prohibited 
without written permission. Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 
123482788RT0001. Smart Computing is published monthly by 
Sandhills Publishing Company. 131 West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 
85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. POSTMASTER: Send address changes 
to Smart Computing, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. 



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Publishing- 



Quick Guides 



Basics Of 
The Buy 

The Bare Essentials Of 
Purchasing Products Through eBay 



The Setup 

To begin setting up your account, 
click the Register link at the top of 
eBay's home page (www.ebay.com). 
Then enter your personal informa- 
tion, such as your name, address, 
phone number, email address, and 
more. If you're planning to complete 
more than just an occasional transac- 
tion through eBay, create a new email 
account for all of your eBay- related 
activities. This ensures your personal 
email messages won't get mixed in 
with the many messages you can ex- 
pect as you make purchases through 
the site, and using an alternate email 
address will help protect the privacy 
of your primary email account, too. 

Read through the user agreement 
and privacy policy, click the checkbox 
that indicates you agree with eBay's 
conditions, and then click Continue. 
The next page prompts you to create 
a username that will identify you to 
other eBay users. You can choose an 
ID generated by eBay, or you can 
create your own. Then you need to 
enter and confirm a password that's at 
least six characters long. You'll also be 
prompted to provide the answer to a 
secret question (such as your moth- 
er's maiden name) to help you iden- 
tify yourself later, in case you forget 
your password. 

If you use an anonymous account 
similar to those you can create at 
Hotmail or Yahoo!, eBay prompts 
you to confirm your email address. 
You can confirm your identity using a 
credit card (which won't be charged) 



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Quick Guides 



or by entering another email address 
that's linked to a less anonymous 
system: for example, your work email 
account. Once the system accepts 
your second email address, it will 
send a confirmation message to you. 
Click the Complete eBay Registration 
button, which directs you to eBay's 
site, and you'll see a message that in- 
dicates that your account is activated 
and ready to use. 

Fast Auction Facts 

After you set up your account 
and log into eBay with your username, 
you can start looking for products. If 
you know exactly what you want, the 
fastest way to find a product is to enter 
its name in the Search text field and 
click the Search button. But the Search 
tool can be a double-edged sword. 
Enter a keyword that's too broad, and 
you'll spend all day sifting through the 
results. Enter a too-specific keyword 
and you might think no one is of- 
fering the item you want. Be sure to 
try lots of variations in your keywords 
until you hit the right combination. 

Don't click a product link and 
immediately start bidding. Check 
details related to payment and ship- 
ping. Some unscrupulous sellers 
offer products at very low prices but 
jack up the cost of shipping to make 
up the difference. And although 
some sellers make paying easy be- 
cause they offer PayPal (a system that 
lets you use your credit card to pay 
instantly), others require you to pay 
with personal checks or money or- 
ders, and they won't ship the product 
until they have the money in hand. 

In other words, proceed with cau- 
tion when you bid to make sure the 
seller is trustworthy. When you click 
to see an item's description you will 
have access to Seller Information on 
the right side of the page. Click the 
seller's username to see a feedback 
score and positive feedback per- 
centage, or click the number to the 
right of the username to view the 
comments that other buyers have 



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Reference Series / Guide To eBay 5 



Quick Guides 



recorded after completing their own 
transactions with him. 

Bid To Win 

When you find an item description 
that looks interesting, you can look to 
the right of the product's link to see 
the current bid amount, number of 
bids, amount of time left in the auc- 
tion, and whether the seller accepts 
PayPal as a method of purchase. If 
you have any questions about the 
product, click the item's link and 
email the seller for more information. 

If you're absolutely certain you 
want the product and you don't want 
to risk a bidding war, you can also 
look for a Buy It Now price. Not all 
products have a Buy It Now option, 
but if you see one, it means the seller 
is willing to sell the product immedi- 
ately at a predetermined price. 

It's often best to bypass the Buy It 
Now option and place a regular bid if 
you want to get a more competitive 
price. To do so, click the item's link to 
see a detailed description and then 
click Place Bid. You'll see the current 
bid, and in most cases you'll see the bid 
increments (such as $2) that indicate 
how much you need to bid. For ex- 
ample, if the current bid is $100, and 
the increment is $2, you have to bid at 
least $102 to make your bid count. 

You can also just enter your max- 
imum bid for the item right off the 
bat, and eBay will begin an automatic 
proxy-bidding process on your behalf. 
Proxy bidding is just a fancy way of 
saying that eBay does your bidding 
for you. The system anonymously 
compares your bid with others and 
incrementally increases your bid until 
another user exceeds your maximum 
bid amount. If the auction ends be- 
fore anyone tops your bid, you win 
the item. 



Time To Pay Up 

After you win the auction, you can 
read your confirmation email and 
click the Pay Now button. You'll see 




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6 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



detailed instructions on how to pay 
for your item. If the seller wants you 
to send a check or money order, you'll 
see the seller's address. You will also 
see an email address you can use to 
contact the seller in case you have any 
questions about the transaction. 

PayPal, which is an extension of 
eBay, lets you use a checking account 
or credit card to make online pay- 
ments. To use PayPal, you'll first have 
to register an account to confirm your 
identity. This process is similar to the 
one you used when creating your 
eBay account. 

To create a PayPal account, access 
the site (www.paypal.com) and click 
the Sign Up Now button at the top 
of the page. Using the drop-down 
menus, create a personal account in 
the United States and click Continue. 
Enter your personal information and 
confirm your email address, then use 
a checking account or credit card 
number to complete the process, and 
verify the method you want to use to 
fund your PayPal account. 

After you set up your PayPal ac- 
count, and win an auction that accepts 
a PayPal payment, you can click the 
Pay Now button and you will imme- 
diately see instructions for sending 
money online. It's worth remembering 
that using a PayPal account funded 
through a credit card backed by fraud 
protection guarantee is one of the saf- 
est ways to pay for eBay auctions. 

Bought & Sold 

After you receive your product from 
the seller, it's time to leave feedback 
so other bidders will know whether 
your buying experience was positive or 
negative. To leave feedback, just log 
into your eBay account, check your 
account summary, and you'll see 
whether you're slated to leave feedback 
for a transaction. If so, click the appro- 
priate checkbox and then leave a brief 
comment for other users to see. H 

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Reference Series / Guide To eBay 7 



Quick Guides 



Sell, Sell, Sell 

Start Selling On eBay Quickly 



For some, eBay is a way to find rare treasures at good 
prices. Others, however, use eBay to make money. 
Whether you're interested in a virtual garage sale or 
want to start a small business selling on eBay, your first step 



is to get a seller account and list your first item. This guide 
outlines the basics, and is a good way to start selling quickly. 
See the "Selling" section of this issue starting on page 89 for 
more information. 



To get started, click Sell on the eBay title bar, 
and then click the Start Selling Now Button. 

If you're not signed in but have previously 
registered with eBay, enter your eBay User ID 
and Password. If you're not already registered 
with eBay, click the Register button and provide 
the relevant information (see "Membership Has 
Its Privileges" on page 44 for more information 
on getting registered). 



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8 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



Read the information and click the 
Create Seller's Account button. Then 
provide the requested credit card infor- 
mation and click Continue. The credit 
card information will help validate your 
ID and allow you to pay eBay seller fees 
using your credit card. 

To further verify ID, eBay asks you to 
provide checking account information as 
well. Again, you will be able to use this 
information to pay eBay seller fees, if you 
wish. Finally, select how you wish to pay 
selling fees (credit card or checking ac- 
count). eBay won't charge you until you 
list an item. 

(NOTE: eBay will never ask you to 
submit sensitive information, including 
credit card and checking account informa- 
tion, via email. If you receive an email 
that appears to be from eBay asking for 
personal information, copy and paste the 
link instead of clicking it; or, better yet, go 
to the eBay home page, log in, and enter 
the requested information via My eBay. 
Never open attachments that appear to be 
from eBay. ) 

Before You List 

You now have a seller account on 
eBay, but before you list your first item 
it might be a good idea to make some 
additional preparations. 

A PayPal account isn't necessary to 
sell items on eBay, but it will allow you 
to accept credit card payments and 
makes transactions go much faster. To 
sign up for a PayPal account click the 
Sign Up now graphic on the PayPal 
home page (www.paypal.com) and 
follow the directions. 

Time to do a little research; search 
eBay for similar items that have already 
sold and note the final selling prices. This 
will help you set the starting bid along 
with any Buy It Now or Reserve prices. 
Also note the categories and subcate- 
gories where other sellers are listing sim- 
ilar items. 

Take any pictures you might need and, 
if you want to create a custom HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) page, 
write and test the page ahead of time. 






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Reference Series / Guide To eBay 9 



Quick Guides 



List An Item 

Finally, it's time to list the item you 
want to sell. It might be a good idea to 
have the item handy, in case you need 
additional information while working 
up your listing. 

Once you're ready to list an item, re- 
turn to the eBay home page and click Sell 
in the title bar at the top of the page. 
Click the Start A New Listing button and 
provide your eBay User ID and Password 
if prompted. Select Sell Item At Online 
Auction and click Continue. 

Select the proper category for your 
item from one of the 32 main categories 
in the first box and continue to select 
subcategories until the final box turns 
grey. If you want to add one of the sug- 
gested additional categories listed at the 
bottom of the page, select the category 
and click Continue. Otherwise select 
None and click Continue. 

Now it's time to provide a title for 
your item. Potential buyers search eBay 
item titles for matches, so be as specific 
and accurate as possible with the 55 
characters provided. Include your item's 
brand name, model number, size, color, 
and any other relevant information if 
possible. You can provide a subtitle with 
additional information for 50 cents. 
Farther down the page, you can specify 
item-specific features. The information 
on this page changes according to the se- 
lected category. 

On the same page, enter a description 
of your item. Be honest, but also write 
an enticing sales pitch for the item. If 
you know HTML and want to create 
your own custom page, click the Enter 
Your Own HTML tab. It's best if you 
have your HTML page written ahead of 
time. Click Continue when finished. 

After clicking Continue, you may see 
a dialog box asking you to install addi- 
tional software from eBay. Clicking Yes 
will make it easier to add pictures to 
your listing. 



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10 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



On the next page, you'll begin by pro- 
viding a starting price for your item. A 
higher starting price may help ensure 
you get what you want for an item, but it 
will also generate a higher insertion fee 
and may discourage some bidders from 
joining the party. Also decide on the du- 
ration and start time for your auction. 

eBay will host one picture of your 
item on its servers for free. To upload an 
image to eBay, click the Add A Picture 
button in the first box. In the Open di- 
alog box, select the image you saved and 
click Open. You'll have to pay additional 
fees to host other pictures on eBay. 
Alternatively, you can host pictures else- 
where if you prefer. 

You can add themes and additional 
options to make it easier for buyers to 
find your product, but each option will 
cost you additional money. Select any 
options you may want from the list and 
click the Continue button. 

Provide payment information. If you 
want to accept PayPal, make sure the ap- 
propriate checkbox is marked and make 
sure the email address listed matches the 
address of record on your PayPal ac- 
count. Specify where you're willing to 
ship the item. 

The final price does not include ship- 
ping and handling. Specify a price for 
shipping and handling here. If you want 
to accept returns, click the checkbox. 
List any other payment instructions in 
the field at the bottom of the page and 
click Continue. 

Review the information you've pro- 
vided. Click the Preview How Your Item 
Will Look To Buyers link to see a pre- 
view of the actual listing. Total insertion 
fees are listed at the bottom of the page. 
You'll have to pay additional fees if the 
item sells. Click the Submit Listing 
button to submit the listing. H 

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Reference Series / Guide To eBay 11 



Quick Guides 



Online Autos 

Take Your Pick From eBay Motors 



When Wayne Orstad started his search for a late- 
model Chrysler PT Cruiser, he didn't start pounding 
the pavement in search of a brick-and-mortar car lot 
that offered him the best deal; he turned to the Internet and 
eBay Motors (www.motors.ebay.com). 

"My primary reason for using eBay Motors is that I bought 
[the PT Cruiser] 20% cheaper than I could in the area," says 
Orstad, who is a resident of Omaha, Neb. 

Orstad added that the 2003 Patriot Blue PT Cruiser was 
virtually everything he was looking for in an automobile. The 
color, 5-speed manual transmission, and 75,000-mile war- 
ranty were all on Orstad's wish list. 



And he got everything on his wish list from an auction on 
eBay Motors. 

By purchasing a vehicle through eBay Motors, Orstad 
joined a growing number of auto buyers who search for their 
dream cars at the online auctioneer's Web site. In fact, the ve- 
hicle component of eBay's Web site has grown to virtually 
become its own separate entity. This Quick Guide will intro- 
duce you to the nuts and bolts of eBay Motors. For those 
with a little more experience, truck on over to our "Other 
eBay Sites" section (beginning on page 171), where you'll find 
additional pointers for buying or selling on eBay Motors. 

BY VlNCE COCLEY 




Autornobilia 

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Find parts by IV vlodel and Year 

Editors' Charily Challenge 

Ten teams. Ten projec wir ier. Follow the 

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Premium Motors - Over $100K 

Find the vehic :: ted 



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Limited Edition 
Motors Jacket 



The best place to begin your quest for a car is the Search link in the black bar atop 
the page. If you're selling a car, get your listing started by clicking the Sell link. 



12 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 





... . ... ... ■■■..■.. ., 




► Vehicle Make ► Vehicle Model 

All makes All models v] | Search | tiDS 

► Seaich Title ► Words to exclude 

1 1 1 1 


□ Search titles and descriptions (Use this to find more items) 


► Vehicle Year ► Price Range 

Between | and |^^| (yyyy) Between I and I Q^ 

► Sort By 

| Time: ending soonest v| 



Using eBay Motors' Smart Search can accelerate your 
hunt. Use the feature's drop-down menus to select the 
make and model of the vehicle you're interested in. 



Mercedes-Benz : S-Class 

•nzS500, Loaded, DOWN LEASE $ 

Miles: 8807 Doors: 4 

ransmission: Automatic Interior: Ti 

Engine: 8 - Cyl. Year: 20 

Warranty: Existing 



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Black 

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In addition to providing basic data about the car, you can 
click the VIN Number link to do an online title check for 
a fee. The ribbon icon denotes the seller has paid for an 
independent inspection of the vehicle. 




Located near the bottom of a listing, the calculator will determine your estimated 
monthly payment based on the information you enter. Click the Apply For Financing 
link and let eBay's Financing Center help you find a lender and apply for a loan. 



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To start the financing process, use the drop-down 
menus to specify your preferences and click Continue. 








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For a broader search, click Browse instead 
of Search, select a vehicle make, and 
start hunting for the right set of wheels 
(or wings). 



Click either of the Apply Now! links to begin 
the application process for financing. 



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Similar to eBay Motors' current Smart 
Search, the new Smart Search is essentially 
the same but has a few modifications, 
such as replacing the tabbed links and 
eliminating the price range. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 13 



Quick Guides 



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If you didn't click the VIN Number link in the listing, you 
can write down the VIN number and buy a title report 
from AutoCheck (www.autocheck.com). 



Private inspection companies, such as 
SGS Automotive (sgs-ebay.sgsauto 
.com), will verify or refute the seller's 
description of a particular vehicle 
with the seller's permission. 
We included a sample report to give 



you an idea of what your hundred bucks (reports typically cost $99.50) buys you. 
Click the link that best represents the mode of transportation you need inspected. 



Seller information 

unimoq13B ( 155 & ) s XiX e r r "« 

Feedback Score: 155 
Positive Feedback: 98.7% 

Member since Oct-01-03 in United States 
Read feedback comments 
Add to Favorite Sellers 
Ask seller a question 
View seller's other items 
Visit t his seller's eBay Store! 
AJ.Ufr Ramsey Motors Corporation 

(t^ Vehicle Purchase Protection up to $20,000. 
Programs and term: 




A 



Condition 
Guarantee 

by Setter 




Money Back 
Guarantee 

by Setter 



These icons are fairly straightforward and signify added peace of mind for prospective buyers. For more 
information about eBay's Vehicle Protection Program, Condition Guarantee by Seller, and Money Back 
Guarantee by Seller, look for the three eBay Motors articles in the "Other eBay Sites" section of this issue. 



Sell Your Item: Choose a Selling Format 



Sell at .1 Fixe.l ("Buy It Now! Pike 

Allows buyers to purchase your item(s) at a price you si 
how It . : : e auctions 






After you've signed in and clicked the Sell link, select your 
selling format and click Continue. 




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Select your vehicle's 
proper category and sub- 
categories in the Browse 
Category box. (Use the 
scroll bar to find those 
that apply to your vehicle 
and click to select them.) 



14 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



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At step 2, you'll enter important information, including your 
vehicle's vital VIN number, mileage, condition, options, and 
so on. Be sure to provide prospective buyers with a thorough 
description of any extraordinary features or glaring deficiencies. 



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starting price, reserve price 
(optional), and the auction's 
duration. Give your listing that 
Chotchkies' flair with a bevy of 
photos, design templates, and 
optional icons. 



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listing, include the payment methods, sell-to locations, 
and shipping details you're comfortable with. 



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listing, review the fees 
eBay will charge you for 
the auction. There's no 
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click Submit Listing. 



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Why not let a pro do it? eBay 
lists several listing software 
companies that help you 
design an eye-popping listing. 
Open a Web browser with an 
active Internet connection 
and go to pages.motors.ebay 
.com/services/software.html 
to learn more about listing 
services. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 15 



Quick Guides 



Bid-Free Bargains 

eBa/s Sister Site Half.com Sells At Fixed Prices 



Most of us know by now that eBay offers a virtually lim- 
itless variety of products available to the highest 
bidder. Of course, there are times when you might be 
willing to pay a little bit more money for the assurance that the 
item will be yours and that someone won't outbid you at the 
last moment. If eBay is a virtual auction house, its sister site, 
Half.com, is a virtual garage sale. Like eBay, Half.com features 



items for sale by registered users. Unlike eBay, however, there 
is no cutthroat bidding or buyers who swoop in to outbid you 
with only one minute left in the auction. Item prices at 
Half.com are fixed by sellers, so if you are the first buyer, you 
can have the item for the listed price. We'll take a look at the 
site's basic search, buy, and sell tools. For more information 
about Half.com, see "Hop Onto Half.com" on page 171. 




Search 

To search for an item, type the name of the item you're looking 
for in the Search field. If you would like to limit your search to a 
particular item category, make a selection in the drop -down menu. 
After typing the search query and, if applicable, selecting a category, 
click the Go button to begin the search. 

Browse By Category 

Sometimes you know exactly what you hope to 
find. Other times, you might simply want to 
shop, and that's when it might be more produc- 
tive to browse the listings at Half.com, rather 
than searching for a specific item. You'll find cat- 
egories and subcategories listed on the left side of 
the screen. Click the product type that you would 
like to browse. 

On your selected category's home page, you'll 
see some of the best bargains and most popular 
items within that product 
type. The top half of the 
page features thumbnail 
images of, and prices for, 
some of the best bargains 
in that category. 

If you scroll down a bit, 
you will see a list of best- 
selling items in your chosen 
category. You can switch 
from the Bestselling prod- 
ucts list to a list of the items 
most requested by clicking 
the Most Wanted tab at the 
top of the list. 



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16 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



Subcategory views are very similar to the main 
category views, except that there are no bargain 
listings: only Bestselling and Most Wanted lists. 
There may also be more subcategories listed on the 
left side of the screen, if you wish to narrow your 
search further. 

In some cases, a category may include a Product 
Finder tool instead of a list of Categories. For in- 
stance, if you search for digital cameras, you can 
use drop-down menus to select Manufacturer, 
Resolution (Megapixels), Optical Zoom, Digital 
Zoom, Recording Media, and Price. 

Buy 

When you find an item you'd like to buy, you can choose the seller 
with whom you'd like to do business. In most categories, Half.com orga- 
nizes available items by 
condition. Usually, items in 
better condition cost more 
than those that have some 
wear and tear. Each item 
listing includes the item's 
price, the seller's eBay user- 
name, the seller's feedback 
rating, item comments (if 
any), the seller's preferred 
shipping method and loca- 
tion, and a More Info link. 
Click the feedback score, 
which is in parentheses be- 
hind a seller's username, to 
see the seller's Member 
Profile and learn how other 
Half.com and eBay users 
evaluate the seller. 

On the Member Profile page, you can see the seller's 
Feedback Score, Positive Feedback percentage, and the 
number of times she's received Positive, 
Neutral, and Negative feedback over the 
Past Month, Past 6 Months, and Past 12 
Months. You can also read the feedback 
others have left about this seller. In this ex- 
ample, the user tends to receive positive 
feedback but has a habit of canceling or- 
ders because books are sold out but still 
listed on Half.com. If it's important to re- 
ceive your book on time, you might want 
to consider a seller who doesn't have com- 
plaints about cancelled orders. 

Click the Back button until you arrive at 
the list of sellers again. Once you choose a 
seller that looks trustworthy, click the Buy! 
button next to the seller's name. 








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Reference Series / Guide To eBay 17 



Quick Guides 



Check the Item, Media Mail, and Total amounts. If 
you do not want to buy the item, click Remove From 
Cart. If you don't want to buy the item at this time, 
click Move To WishList. If you want to look for a dif- 
ferent seller, click Find Another One. If you want to 
buy the item now and have a gift certificate or 
coupon, type the Claim Code in the Gift Certificates 
And Coupons field and click the Redeem button. 
Once you are ready to buy your item, click Proceed To 
Checkout. (If you already have an account set up, you 
can use Half.com's Speedy Checkout feature, which 
will not require that you re- 



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Step 1 - Choose Shipping Address 



Ship my order to: 

Kylee K Dickey 

5555 NW 2nd Circle, i 

Lincoln, NE 6B555 



w shipping address: 



Street ai 



« APO/FPO for City. 



enter all of your billing and 
shipping information.) 

If Half.com has the right ad- 
dress on file, click the Use This 
Address button. If not, type the 
correct information in the 
Enter A New Shipping Address 
section and click Save Changes. 

Unlike eBay, Half.com does 
not accept PayPal, check, 
money order, or debit card 
payments. You must pay by 
credit card. Type your name 
as it appears on your credit 
card in the Cardholder Name 
field. Select the type of card 

from the drop-down menu, enter your credit card 
number in the aptly named Credit Card Number field, 
and select the month and year that your credit card ex- 
pires from the Expiration Date drop-down menus. 

Either click the Use My Shipping Address checkbox or 
type your billing address information in the designated 
fields. Make sure you choose your state from the State 
drop-down menu. Your billing 
address must be the same ad- 
dress that your credit card com- 
pany has on file. When you are 
finished, click Add Credit Card. 

Check your order. If you need 
to make any changes, click Edit / 
Change Shipping Address or Edit 
/ Change Billing. If everything 
looks OK, click Place My Order. 
For more detailed buying infor- 
mation, see "Buy On Half.com" 
on page 174. 



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Phone Number 



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Item: $5.00 

Media Mail: S3. 25 

Subtotal: $8,25 

"ctal r-'cicl-arcise: SS.00 



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6139 NW 2nd Circle, #161 
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18 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



Sell 



F 



Qu«k - Q 



Selling items on Half.com is nearly as easy as 
buying items. You must be a registered user of 
Half.com or eBay. The Half.com Web site walks 
you through the process. All you need to do is 
manage your online business and ship your prod- 
ucts responsibly. 

First, click Sell Your Stuff in the orange band at 
the top of the main page. Alternately, if you are 
browsing a category, such as Music or 
DVDs/Movies, you can click the Sell 
Yours Now link on the right side of 
the page. 

Next, follow the on-screen instruc- 
tions to identify the item you wish to 
sell. For example, for books you will 
enter the ISBN (International Standard 
Book Number), and for movies you 
will enter the UPC (Universal Product 
Code). After you've typed the identi- 
fying information in the designated 
field, click the red Continue button. 

The exact options will vary, de- 
pending on the type of merchandise 

you are selling. In our example, we are selling a book. Select the 
condition of your item the drop-down menu. (You can find a 
guide to Half.com's Quality ratings at half.ebay.com/help 
/popup_display.cfm?helpsection=pricing#2.) Next, type a brief 
description of the item you want to sell. 

Half.com supports JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) 
and GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files up to 2MB in size. 
After you take a photograph of your item and copy the image to 
your hard drive (by transferring or scanning it), click the Browse 
button to locate and upload the photo to Half.com. If you have 
the photo saved on a photo -sharing or similar site that allows 
off-site linking, you can instead type the URL (uniform resource 
locator, or Web address) in the Enter An Image URL field. 

Then click the Continue button, and choose the 
price at which you want to sell your item and the 
proper shipping amount. (Please follow Half- 
.com's Shipping Allowance guidelines at half.ebay 
.com/help/index.cfm?helpsection=fulfill#4. ) After 
you have selected the item and shipping amounts, 
click List Item. When your item sells, Half.com 
will email you. Half.com receives buyers' credit 
card payments and pays you for your sales by 
check or through direct deposit twice per month. 
For more detailed selling information, see "Sell On 
Half.com" on page 178. H 

by Kylee Dickey 






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Reference Series / Guide To eBay 19 



Quick Guides 



FAQs 



1 1 Common Questions & Answers 
About Using eBay 




Here's everything you ever wanted 
to know about eBay and were 
afraid to ask. Or maybe you 
were just a little shy. That's OK; we 
asked the questions for you. 

1. What is eBay? 

In case you've just moved back 
from an under-a-rock residence, eBay 
is the world's largest auction house 
and marketplace. It has Sotheby's- 
level exotica, garage-sale bargains, 
and everything in between. A seller 
lists an item to be bid upon at auction 
or sold immediately at a fixed price. 
You can buy, sell, or even trade al- 
most anything in the world. 

2. What's the difference between 
an eBay auction and a sale with the 
Buy It Now option? 



There are two ways to buy and sell 
items on eBay. In an auction, the 
bidding starts at a price and parame- 
ters set by the seller. In general, the 
item goes to the highest bidder when 
the predetermined time runs out, 
usually after a few days. For a Buy It 
Now item, the price is fixed, and the 
first buyer who offers the seller's 
price gets the item. 

3. What is the eBay Community? 

eBay is the largest collection of 
buyers and sellers in the world, and all 
these folks have a lot of things to say. 
In addition to leaving feedback about 
persons you've dealt with, you can 
read and post on the eBay forums, ask 
questions to be answered by other 
users, or just chat about anything. 



Just click the Community tab at the 
top of any page to get started. 

4. How do I get help with eBay? 
eBay has an extensive help system. 

Click the Help tab and then browse 
through the categories to find an an- 
swer or search for what you need help 
with. You can also post questions in the 
Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms. 

5. What if I need help from a 
live person? 

Then you can try out eBay's new 
Live Help feature. Just click the Live 
Help button at the eBay home page, 
enter your User ID or email address, 
select a category, and then click Send. 
You'll be connected with the next 
available eBay representative. 

6. How can I find out what the 
acronyms in a listing mean? 

Many item descriptions will contain 
acronyms that may not be familiar to 
you, but eBay has created a listing of 
these acronyms and their explanation. 
To view the list, click the Help tab and 
then click eBay Acronyms under Help 
Topics on the left. 

Registration 

7. What do I need to register? 

Before you can buy or sell any items 
on eBay, you'll have to register. It's a 
free process that takes only a couple of 
minutes. You'll need a valid email ad- 
dress that you can check immediately, 
and you'll have to enter your name, 
address, phone number, and date of 
birth. To finish the process, you'll se- 
lect a User ID and a Password. 

8. Why do I need to put credit card 
information on file? 

If you use a free, Web-based email 
account from a provider such as 
Yahoo!, Gmail, or Hotmail, you'll 
need to put a debit or credit card 
number on file with eBay. The com- 
pany uses this number for identifica- 
tion purposes only and won't process 
any charges. If you don't want to put 
a card number on file, you can use an 
email address from another account, 
such as a school, your company, or a 
paid ISP (Internet service provider). 



20 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



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9. What do I do if eBay doesn't ac- 
cept my credit or debit card number? 

Make sure that you entered the card 
number correctly and that the address 
you entered during registration 
matches the one on your credit card 
statement. If you're using a debit card, 
only those with a Visa or MasterCard 
logo are acceptable. If your number 
still doesn't work, check with your 
company to ensure that your account 
is in good standing and active and that 
you don't have an Internet or phone 
order block on your account. 

10. How do I pick a good User ID? 
User IDs on eBay must be at least 

two characters long and can contain 



a 



In addition to its online help section, eBay now 
offers Live Help from representatives. 



both letters and numbers. You can't 
have any spaces in your ID (although 
you can have underscores), and there 
are some symbols that you can't use 
(&, @, <, >). You also can't have the 
word "eBay" in the name, and your ID 
can't be the same as another user's. You 
may have to try once or twice to get an 
acceptable user ID, so be creative. 

11. How do I change my contact 
information after I've registered? 

If your contact information changes, 
you can update it from your My eBay 
page. (See the "My eBay" section of this 
article for more information on this 
feature.) Click the Addresses link under 
My Account and then click the Change 
link next to either your Registration 
Address or your Primary Shipping 
Address. On the Change Registration 
Information page that opens, you'll 
also be able to update your email ad- 
dress and phone number. 

12. How do I change my User ID? 
You can only change your eBay 

User ID once every 30 days. To do so, 
open your My eBay page and click 
the Personal Information link under 
My Account. You'll have to enter 
your password again for verification 
and then you'll be able to change 
your ID. A Changed ID icon will ap- 
pear next to your user ID for the next 



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30 days to let other users know that 
you've changed it. 

13. What is ID Verify? 

ID Verify is another way of estab- 
lishing your identity on eBay and 
making you a more trusted trading 
partner. It takes about 10 minutes to 
complete the verification process, and 
it costs $5. Once you have been veri- 
fied, your feedback profile will show 
an ID Verify icon. The service is avail- 
able only for residents of the United 
States and U.S. territories and is valid 
until your name, address, or phone 
number changes (then you'll have to 
pay to have it performed again). 

14. 1 have an old eBay account. Can 
I combine it with my current account? 

Yes. eBay lets you merge the two 
accounts as long as you can prove that 
you are the owner of both and that 
the old one hasn't been used for at 
least 60 days. Click the Help tab at the 
top of any eBay page and then type 
merge accounts in the Search Help 
text field and click the Search Help 
button. Click the Merging Accounts 
link in the results that appear and 
then the Initiate An Account Merge 
link on the next page to get started. 

15. Why do I have a New Member 
icon next to my name? 

The New Member icon appears 
next to the names of users that have 
been registered members of eBay for 
30 days or less. It's not necessarily a 
bad thing, as experienced users will 
frequently be more patient with you 
and will often show you the ropes 
until you get the hang of using eBay. 

Search Or Browse 

16. How do I find an item I want? 

When you are looking for items to 
buy on eBay, you can find them by 
searching or by browsing. Browsing is 
akin to manipulating the categories 
on a Web search engine, such as 



Browsing eBay is as simple as any other 
hierarchical site, such as Yahoo!. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 21 



Quick Guides 



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Yahoo!, where you dig deeper into 
relevant categories until you find the 
types of items you're looking for. A 
good place to start is the Buy page; 
click the Buy tab at the top of any 
page and start clicking. 

17. What are some other ways 
to browse? 

In addition to general category 
browsing, you can find items through 
various other browsing directions. For 
example, you can browse by Theme; 
just click the Themes link in the Other 
Ways To Browse section of the Buy 
page. The Country Western theme 
contains links to apparel (Bandanas 
and Belt Buckles), cooking (BBQ and 
Cast Iron), and music (Bluegrass and 
Classics). Using Themes is a good way 
to find items of interest to you. 

18. How do I find an item by 
searching? 

In general, just type in a search 
word in the text field in the top 
banner and click the Search button. 
But from the Buy page, you can re- 
strict your search to a specific cate- 
gory by selecting a category from the 
drop-down menu beneath the Buy 
heading before clicking the Search 
button. You can also click the Search 
Title And Description checkbox for 
more thorough search results. 



Keep your finger on the thrumming 
vibe of eBay with eBay Pulse. 



You can browse or search eBay via 
shortcut keywords. 



19. What are some advanced 
search options? 

When you click the Advanced Search 
link, you'll get a more robust searching 
tool. In addition to searching by cate- 
gory and the complete description, you 
can also refine your search with para- 
meters such as Time, Price, and 
Distance. For an even more advanced 
search, click the Advanced Search link 
again, and you'll be able to exclude 
words, search only Multiple Item 
Listings, or filter for charity-only items. 

20. Does eBay use advanced search 
commands? 

Yes. As with most search services, 
you can use advanced search com- 
mands when you search eBay. For ex- 
ample, if you put quotation marks 
("") around a series of words, eBay 
will search for them in that specific 
order. Putting a minus sign (-) in 
front of a word will exclude it from 
the search results, whereas placing an 
asterisk (*) after a series of characters 
will search for any words that start 
with those characters. 

21. Can I search by Item Number? 
If you know the Item Number of a 

particular item at auction, you can 
find the item immediately by entering 
the number in the search field. For 
example, you might have received an 



email notification about an item 
on eBay. Copy and paste the item 
number into the search field, and 
you'll jump directly to that item. 

22. How do I search for Buy It 
Now items? 

If you don't want to deal with bid- 
ding on items, you can search eBay 
for Buy It Now items that you can 
purchase immediately for a predeter- 
mined price. Click the Advanced 
Search link and then select the Buy It 
Now Items checkbox under Show 
Only before starting your search. 

23. What are eBay Keywords? 
Like America Online and other 

online services, eBay lets users 
search or browse by common key- 
words. Each keyword has its own 
page with different items that fit that 
keyword. To access the keyword 
page, follow the Site Map link at the 
top of any page and then click eBay 
Keywords under Buy. 

24. How can I find items sold by a 
specific seller? 

If you've been pleased with what 
you've bought from a certain seller, 
you can search specifically for other 
items she is selling. If you're at one 
of the seller's auction pages, just 
click the View Seller's Other Items 
link. Otherwise, you can click the 
Advanced Search link, click Items By 
Seller under Search on the left page, 
enter the seller's User ID in the search 
field, and click the Search button. 



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22 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



Yellow Star 


& 


10 to 49 


Blue Star 


* 


50 to 99 


Turquoise Star 


* 


100 to 499 


Purple Star 


it 


500 to 999 


Red Star 


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1 000 to 4 999 


Green Star 


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5 000 tc 9 999 


Yellow Shooting Star 


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10.000 to 24.999 


Turquoise Shooting Star 


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25.000 to 49.999 


Purple Shooting Star 


ft 


50.000 to 99.999 


Red Shooting Star 


• 


100 000 or higher 



Different-colored feedback 
stars represent different 
levels of user rankings. 



25. What if I don't know a seller's 
User ID? 

If you don't know a seller's User ID 
but want to search for his auctions, you 
can use his email address to look it up 
if you have been involved in a transac- 
tion with him. Click the Advanced 
Search link and then the Find User ID 
link on the left. Enter the seller's email 
address in the search field and enter the 
security numbers below and then click 
the Search button. eBay will bring up 
the user's Member Profile page con- 
taining his User ID. 

26. How do I improve my searches? 
There are many tips that you can use 

to improve your search results. Act like 
a thesaurus — the word you first think 
of for an item may not be the one the 
seller is using for it. Also, be detailed; 
enter brands, dates, colors, and so on 
to get more accurate results for a spe- 
cific item. Finally, try adding or re- 
moving the plural S. Searching for "toy 
car" in quotation marks, for example, 



will produce different 
results than typing toy 
car without the quotes. 
27. How do I keep 
track of an item with- 
out bidding on it? 

If you find an item 
you like but aren't 
ready to bid on or buy it yet, you can 
keep tabs on the item by clicking the 
Watch This Item link at the item page. 
This will place the item in the Items 
I'm Watching section of your My eBay 
page. To view your item later, click the 
My eBay link at the top of any page 
and scroll down to its listing. Once 
you've instructed eBay to watch an 
item for you, you'll receive an Item 
Watch Reminder email for items 
whose auctions will end in 36 hours, 
giving you a shot at them later. 

28. How do I turn off the Item 
Watch Reminder email? 

You can change your notification 
preferences, such as receiving Item 
Watch Reminder emails, from your 
My eBay page. Click eBay Preferences 
under My Account and then click the 
View/Change link after Notification 
Preferences. Under Daily Status, 
empty the Send Me Daily Lists Of All 
Items That Will End In My Watch 
List In 36 Hours checkbox. Click the 



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Save Changes button at the bottom 
when you're done. 

29. What is the Express Zone? 

The Express Buying & Selling Zone 
is a new way that eBay lets you search 
for items you want. You can search for 
books, music, movies, and video games 
by title, author, artist, UPC (Universal 
Product Code), or ISBN (International 
Standard Book Number). Check out 
the Zone at pages.ebay.com/express. 

30. What is Want It Now? 
Follow the Want It Now link under 

Specialty Sites on the eBay home page, 
and you'll have the opportunity to tell 
the eBay community what you're 
shopping for. You can create a post re- 
questing an item and sellers can re- 
spond by sending you their matching 
listings. It's like searching eBay 
without having to do any searching. 

31. What is eBay Pulse? 

eBay is a vibrant and exciting mar- 
ketplace, but sometimes you can only 
see what's going on in the areas you 
visit. eBay Pulse gives you a snapshot of 
the entire vibe, showing you the most 
common searches, the most watched 
items, and the most popular stores. It's 
a great way to see what others are doing 
on eBay. To visit the Pulse, follow the 
Site Map link at the top of any eBay 
page and click eBay Pulse under Buy. 

All About Buying 

32. How do I know whether I can 
trust a seller? 

eBay uses many ways to judge a 
seller's trust. His feedback rating is 
one of the best, as it uses responses 
from other people that have bought 
from or sold to that individual. Click 
the number behind the seller's name, 
and you'll see his feedback page, 
which includes the number of posi- 
tive, neutral, and negative feedback 
posts he has received. 

33. How can I leave feedback? 



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You can leave feedback for any 
person you've completed a transaction 
with in the past 90 days, whether buyer 
or seller. From your My eBay page, 
click the Feedback link under My 
Account. Now click the Leave Feed- 
back button. You'll see the users you 
can leave feedback for. Be sure that 
your feedback is accurate because it will 
be publicly viewable by other users. 

34. How can I learn more about 
an item? 

Each item page contains details 
about the item, such as a description 
and usually a picture. But you can find 
out more about an item by doing some 
research on your own. Search the Web 
for the item to find out average cost, 
quality, and more before deciding to 
buy. You can also ask the seller for 
more information. 

35. How do I ask a seller questions? 
If you want to know even more 

about an item, click the Ask Seller A 
Question link in the Seller Information 
box on an item page. Select the type of 
question you want to ask in the drop- 
down menu near the top of the page 
and then type your question in the text 
box below. You can have eBay send a 
copy of the question to you or add the 
item to your watch list by selecting the 
appropriate checkbox; then click the 
Submit Question button. 

36. What is the Buyer's Checklist? 



eBay has a Buyer's Checklist of con- 
siderations that you should make be- 
fore bidding on or buying an item. To 
view the Buyer's Checklist, click the 
Help link at the top of any eBay page, 
type buyer's checklist in the Search 
Help field and press ENTER and then 
click the Buyer's Checklist link in the 
results that appear. 

37. How do I print an item page? 
You can, of course, simply click 

your browser's Print button, but eBay 
also offers a printable page format to 
ensure that your hard copy will in- 
clude all the information you need. 
Scroll down to the bottom of the page 
and click the Printer Friendly Page 
link before printing. 

38. What if an item seems illegal? 
If you think an item you're viewing 

may not be legal, check eBay's list of 
prohibited, questionable, and in- 
fringing items at pages.ebay.com 
/help/sell/item_allowed.html. If an 
item appears in this list, you should 
probably avoid purchasing it. Any legal 
issues will become the responsibility of 
both the seller and the buyer. 

39. How do I purchase a Buy It 
Now item? 

Buy It Now items are available for 
the Buy It Now price plus any ship- 
ping or other costs. To purchase the 
item, just click the Buy It Now button 
on an item's page and complete the 



The Security & Resolution Center gives you a 
place to go to resolve disputes, such as not 
receiving an item you've paid for. 



purchase steps. You don't have to wait 
for an auction to end, just buy it now. 

40. An item used to have a Buy It 
Now price but now it doesn't. What 
happened? 

Once an item that has both a bid 
price and a Buy It Now price has a bid 
placed on it, the Buy It Now price will 
disappear. So, if you want to buy 
something for its Buy It Now price, 
you'll have to move fast. 

41. How do I pay for an item? 
After you've won an item (or if 

you're purchasing a Buy It Now item), 
you can input your means of payment. 
The seller's preferred payment appears 
at the bottom of an item page. For ex- 
ample, if she prefers PayPal, you can 
click the Pay Now button, input your 
shipping information, confirm the pay- 
ment details, and then send the funds 
from your PayPal account. 

42. How do I add a seller to my Fa- 
vorite Sellers list? 

If you are fond of a specific seller, 
you can add him to your Favorite 
Sellers list for easy access to any items 
he might list. Just click the Add To 
Favorite Sellers link under Seller 
Information on any of his item pages. 
On the following page, you can add 
him to a Favorite Seller Digest email 
that you'll receive from eBay about 
what your favorite sellers have on the 
market by selecting the appropriate 
checkbox. Click the Add to Favorites 
button and you're finished. 

43. How can I call a seller? 

If you're having trouble reaching a 
seller (or a buyer) via email, you can 
request additional contact information. 
Click the Advanced Search link and 
then click Find Contact Information 
on the left under Members. Enter the 
party's User ID and the item number 
for the auction in question, and eBay 
will email the other user's contact in- 
formation to you (and send your con- 
tact information to him). 



24 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



44. I haven't received an item I've 
paid for. What should I do? 

First, you should try to get in touch 
with the seller. If you haven't been 
able to do this, you can report the 
problem at the Security & Resolution 
Center. Click the Help tab atop any 
eBay page and then click the Security 
Center link under Related Links. 
Check the radio button in front of 
Item Not Received and click Report 
Problem to start the process. 

45. What is a PowerSeller? 

A PowerSeller is an eBay user who 
has maintained a 98% positive feed- 
back rating with a high volume of 
transactions, a sign that this user is 
likely experienced and should provide 
good service. Each month eBay auto- 
matically invites qualified sellers into 
the program, which offers additional 
benefits, such as prioritized customer 
service and promotional offers. 

46. Can I buy items from other 
countries? 

Yes, eBay is an international mar- 
ketplace. By default, searches will show 
items from English-speaking countries 
that are willing to ship to the United 
States. You can search other countries 
for items by clicking the Advanced 
Search link and then selecting another 
country under Location. Be sure that 
an international seller is willing to ship 
to you before you bid on her item. 

47. What is an escrow service? 

An escrow service is a go-between 
for a buyer and seller, usually used in 
high-ticket transactions. The service 
holds the buyer's money until the 
buyer approves the item and then it 
sends it to the seller. eBay uses 
Escrow.com as its approved service, so 
don't rely on any other company. 

48. Can I get an extended warranty 
on my item? 

Most items sold on eBay are "as-is": 
You probably won't get a guarantee 
from Joe Smith in Fargo. But you can 



To place a bid on an item, just 
click the Place Bid button. 



purchase a one-year warranty on most 
electronics items, and sellers can in- 
corporate the warranty into the item. 
To see if the warranty is right for you 
and your item, click the Services link 
at the top of any eBay page and follow 
the Warranty Program link under 
Promote Your Listings. 

49. What is the eBay Toolbar? 

It's a free tool that lets you access 
eBay from your browser at any time. It 
sits below the address bar of your 
browser and features links to My eBay, 
PayPal, and your Favorite Searches 
and Sellers. It also offers alerts for any 
items you're bidding on or watching. 
To download the Toolbar, click 
Services in the top banner and then 
click eBay Toolbar under Tools (next 
to Buyer Tools). 

Bid With Confidence 

50. How do I place a bid? 

You start the bidding process by 
clicking the Place Bid button on an 
item page. Above the button you'll see 
the current bid on the item; you'll have 
to bid higher by at least a 50 -cent in- 
crement. After you place your bid and 
click the Continue button, you'll see a 
summary of the information about the 
item including shipping and handling 
charges. Clicking the Confirm Bid 
button finalizes your bid. 

51. What is a maximum bid? 
When you bid on an item, you can 

place your maximum bid, or the 



highest price you'd be willing to pay for 
the item. The eBay system will auto- 
matically compare your bid to other 
bids and then place incremental bids 
on your behalf just high enough to 
cover the current highest bid. You'll be 
outbid if another bidder has a higher 
maximum, but you could win the item 
without paying your maximum price. 

52. How can I monitor my bids if 
I'm away from my computer? 

Your eBay account isn't tied to one 
computer, so you can keep tabs on 
your bids when you're away from 
home. You can log into your eBay ac- 
count from a friend's machine or 
from a public computer in the library 
or an Internet cafe. Just be sure to log 
out when you're finished so no one 
else has access to your account. 

53. Will I be notified if I lose a bid? 
When an item auction ends, an End 

of Item Notice email goes out to bid- 
ders who lost the bid. This notice con- 
tains links to other items from the 
seller, as well as links to similar items 
from other sellers on eBay. You can opt 
out of receiving this email by changing 
your Notification Preferences on the 
eBay Preferences page of My eBay. 

54. Can I practice bidding? 

If you've never bid on an item be- 
fore (either online or at a live auc- 
tion), it can be a bit daunting at first. 
eBay has a test auction where you 
can practice bidding at pages. ebay 
.com/education/tutorial/coursel/bid 
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problem placing a real bid. 

55. What is a reserve price? 

A reserve price is the lowest price 
that a seller is willing to accept for an 
item. You may have the highest bid 
on an auction, but if your bid doesn't 
meet the secret reserve price, you 
won't win the auction. eBay charges a 
fee for sellers to set a reserve price but 
refunds the fee if the item sells. 

56. I was outbid on an item. Can I 
still get it? 

Before bidding on a similar item 
in another auction, wait until the 
first auction ends. If the buyer who 
outbid you retracts her bid or be- 
comes unregistered, you may end up 
with the winning bid. Any bid you 
place on an item is a contractual 
obligation to buy that item at that 
price, so avoid placing multiple bids 
on the same item. 

57. Can I be notified of being 
outbid on my cell phone? 

Yes, eBay offers wireless alerts to 
your cell phone, PDA, or pager when 
you've been outbid or when you've 
won an item. You'll need a device with 
SMS (Short Message Service) capa- 
bility, and you can add the alerts to 
your eBay preferences. From your My 
eBay page, click eBay Preferences 
under My Account and then click Add 
Or Change Notification Services. On 
the following page, click the Subscribe 
link after eBay Wireless Email. 

58. Can I cancel my bid? 

Under certain circumstances you 
can retract a bid on an auction item 
(not on a Buy It Now item, however). 



If you made a typographical error on 
your bid, if the item description has 
changed significantly, or if you are 
unable to contact the seller, you can 
fill out the Bid Retraction Form and 
cancel your bid. Note that you can 
only cancel your bid within a certain 
timeframe: before 12 hours are left in 
the auction or within one hour of 
placing your bid if there are fewer 
than 12 hours left. 

59. What's the best way to win 
an auction? 

Sometimes another buyer will place 
a higher bid on an item at the last 
second before the bid ends. This rec- 
ognized action is called sniping and is 
part of the auction process. In order 
to avoid being sniped, be sure and 
place the highest bid you're willing to 
pay. And if someone currently holds a 
bid on an item you want, go ahead 
and snipe to get it. All's fair in love 
and auctions. 

60. What is shill bidding? 

Shill bidding is the practice of using 
fake bids to artificially drive up an 
item's price. Shill bidding is not per- 
mitted on eBay, and the site recom- 
mends that friends and family do not 
bid on each other's items to avoid ac- 
cidentally appearing to be involved in 
shill bidding. 

Sell Like A Pro 

61. How do I get a seller's account? 
Before you can sell any items on 

eBay, you'll have to create a seller's 
account. Different from a buyer's ac- 
count, a seller's account requires a 



credit or debit card number and 
checking account information. eBay re- 
quires both to maintain as safe and 
trusted a market as possible. You'll also 
have to choose whether you want sell- 
er's fees deducted from your checking 
account or charged to your credit or 
debit card. 

62. What are seller's fees? 

Seller's fees on eBay are the sum of 
several types of fees including an 
Insertion Fee, a Final Value Fee, and 
other optional fees that you may 
choose when placing an item on eBay. 
Some seller's fees are charged when 
you list an item and others are 
charged when your item sells. 

63. What is an Insertion Fee? 

An Insertion Fee is the cost to list 
your item. The Insertion Fee is based 
on the starting price of the item. For 
Multiple Item Listings, it is based on 
the starting cost times the number of 
items you are selling. The Insertion 
Fee is charged when you list your item 
and is nonrefundable. 

64. If my item doesn't sell, can I get 
a refund on the Insertion Fee? 

If your item doesn't sell or you 
don't get paid, you can relist the item 
by using the Relist feature and get a 
refund on the Insertion Fee. You 
don't have to request this credit — the 
eBay system should automatically de- 
tect that your item was relisted. Some 
requirements include: The item must 
be relisted within 90 days, only the 
first relisting is eligible, and only 
single items qualify. 

65. What is a Final Value Fee? 
When your item is sold or your 

auction ends with a winning bid, you 
are charged a Final Value Fee based 
on the selling price or the final bid. If 
you have multiple items listed, this 
fee is based on the number of items 
sold. You will not be charged a Final 
Value Fee if you don't receive any 
bids on your item or if no bids meet 
your reserve price. 



26 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 



66. How do I get a Final Value 
Fee refund? 

If you don't get paid for your item 
(the buyer backs out, his check 
bounces, he wants a refund, etc.), 
you can get a refund on your Final 
Value Fee. First, file an Unpaid Item 
Dispute (more on this below) to at- 
tempt to get the buyer to pay. If the 
buyer doesn't pay, after 10 days you 
can fill out a Final Value Credit 
Request Form, and eBay will issue 
you a refund. Note that you must fill 
out this form within 60 days from 
the end of the auction. 

67. What are eBay's policies on 
selling items? 

Before listing any items on eBay, it's 
a good idea to read the site's policies at 
pages.ebay.com/help/sell/policies.html. 
For example, some sellers may not 
know that you can't offer a choice of 
items when a purchase price has been 
met because it requires offsite negotia- 
tion. Violation of eBay policies can re- 
sult in removal of your listing or 
suspension of your account, so read 
them carefully. 

68. Why did eBay remove my 
listing? 

If you're attempting to sell an item 
that violates copyright or other laws 
or is against eBay policies, eBay will 
remove it. The site should refund all 
of your fees within one billing cycle. If 
you attempt to relist the item, eBay 
may suspend your account. 

69. Can I link to my listing from 
another Web site? 

Yes, if you have your own Web 
page, you can link to eBay or directly 
to your own listings. Click the Ser- 
vices link at the top of any eBay page 
and then click Add Link Buttons under 
Promote Your Listings. Select the type 
of graphic you'd like to add, enter your 
Web site's URL (uniform resource lo- 
cator, or Web address), and then click 
the I Agree button to get started. 

70. Can I revise my item listing? 



You can use the Bid Retraction Form to 
cancel a bid that was made in error. 



You can make changes to items you 
are selling even after they have been 
listed. On your My eBay page, click 
the Selling link. Select the items you'd 
like to change and click the Revise 
link. On the Review and Submit 
Listing page, click the Edit link and 
make your changes. Depending on the 
situation (the auction time remaining, 
bids you've received, etc.), you may 
not be able to change everything 
about the listing. 

71. What is Gift Services? 
Adding a Gift Services icon to 

your item listing shows that you 
think the item would be a good gift. 
You can also promote such services 
as gift wrapping, express shipping, or 
shipping to a gift recipient in your 
listing. Be sure and note any addi- 
tional charge for these services in 
your item description. 

72. Should I include a photo? 

It's not required, but having a pic- 
ture of your item will help in selling it. 
Many users only look at listings that 
include a photo. When an item listing 
includes a photo, a photo icon will ap- 
pear next to the listing in browse and 
search result lists. 

73. Can I have my item appraised? 
If you need a professional opinion 

about the value of the item, you can 
get it authenticated through a third- 
party company affiliated with eBay. 
Click the Services link atop any eBay 
page and then follow the Opinions, 



Authentication & Grading link under 
Protection And Authentication. The 
resulting page will let you select the 
appropriate company for your item. 

74. How do I figure shipping? 
eBay's Shipping Center can help 

you figure the exact cost of shipping 
an item from one place to another. 
To access the Shipping Center, click 
the Services link in any eBay page 
and then click Shipping Center 
under Selling Reference. In addition 
to figuring shipping charges, you can 
also print labels and track packages 
from the Shipping Center. 

75. What if a buyer wants to pay 
by check? 

As long as you both agree, you can 
settle payment in a variety of ways, 
including by check. But it's not a 
bad idea to hold onto your item 
until a personal check clears just to 
be safe. 

76. Can I end my listing early? 

If something unexpected happens 
and you need to cancel an item 
listing, you have that option. Because 
this may damage your reputation, 
consider modifying your listing if 
possible. If it isn't (for example, if 
the item is lost or broken), you can 
end the listing if there are more than 
12 hours remaining. Use your item 
number to fill out the End My 
Listing Early form and decide if you 
want to sell the item to the current 
high bidder or cancel it entirely. 



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$0.35 


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77. What do I do if a buyer 
backs out? 

If a buyer or the winning bidder 
backs out of a transaction, first send 
him another message asking him to 
pay. If he still refuses, you can send a 
Second Chance Offer to another bid- 
der. If you have already sent the item 
and the buyer refuses to pay, you can 
have eBay contact him by filling out an 
Unpaid Item Dispute. 

78. What is a Second Chance 
Offer? 

If the winning bidder on your 
item backs out or if you have dupli- 
cate items, you can make a Second 
Chance Offer to another bidder. It's 
free; you only have to pay the Final 
Value Fee if the item sells, and you 
can easily send it from My eBay. 
Under Items I've Sold, click Action 
and then select Send A Second 
Chance Offer. 

79. What is an Unpaid Item 
Dispute? 

To report an unpaid item, click the 
Services link on any eBay page. Under 
Listing Solutions, follow the Report 
An Unpaid Item link. Enter the item 
number to start the process of getting 
eBay involved. 

80. What if I don't have time to sell 
an item myself? 

If you have items to sell but don't 
have the time to do it, you can use an 
eBay Trading Assistant to sell it for you. 
Trading Assistants are experienced 



An Insertion Fee is the charge to list an item on 
eBay. It varies according to the item's starting or 
reserve price. 



eBay sellers who have a feedback rating 
of at least 50. 

81. How do I get in touch with a 
Trading Assistant? 

You can locate a Trading Assistant 
in your area by clicking Services on 
any eBay page and clicking the 
Trading Assistants link under Listing 
Solutions and then entering your ZIP 
code. You can also narrow the search 
to a specific item category. You'll have 
to agree with your Trading Assistant 
on a fee for her services. 

82. What if I want to be a Trading 
Assistant? 

If you have the rating and the expe- 
rience selling items on eBay, you can 
make extra money by becoming a 
Trading Assistant. To see the require- 
ments and start the application process, 
head to the Trading Assistant Directory 
page as per the previous answer and 
click Getting Started in the left margin 
under For Trading Assistants. 

83. What are eBay Stores? 

If you're trying to grow an online 
business, opening an eBay Store can 
be a good way to go about it. The cost 
of having a Store starts at $15.95 a 
month and includes marketing and 
merchandising tools to help bring in 
and hold buyers, as well as sales 
analysis and tracking. It's a stable 
storefront where shoppers know they 
can find certain items and will return. 
To learn more, click any of the eBay 
Stores links on the Site Map page. 

84. What is Turbo Lister? 

Turbo Lister is an offline program 
that lets you create multiple item list- 
ings and then upload them to eBay all 
at once. It can save you a lot of time if 
you are a medium- to high-volume 
seller. To download Turbo Lister, click 
the Downloads link at the bottom of 



the eBay home page and then click the 
Turbo Lister link to get started. 

My eBay 

85. What is My eBay? 

Your My eBay page is a tool that 
keeps track of all your eBay activities, 
including bids, sales, watched items, 
feedback, and more. Once you've reg- 
istered and created an eBay account, 
you automatically have a My eBay 
page; just click My eBay at the top of 
any eBay page. 

86. How do I use My eBay? 

The My eBay tool functions like any 
other Web page. Click the links on the 
left to open different views. For ex- 
ample, clicking the Buying link will 
show items that you are bidding on, 
ones that you are watching, as well as 
items you've won and haven't won. You 
can also use My eBay to change any of 
your personal settings and preferences. 

87. How do I customize the My 
eBay Summary page? 

You can set up the main My eBay 
Summary page however you like. Just 
click the Customize Summary link in 
the upper-right portion of your My 
eBay page. The left window shows 
Available Views that you can add to 
your My eBay page and the right 
window shows the items your page 
currently displays. Use the arrow but- 
tons to move the views from one 
window to the other. You can also 
specify how many items you want to 
display in each view. Click the Save 
button when you're finished. 

88. What are My Favorites? 



The Final Value Fee is what you'll have 
to pay when the item sells. 



Final Value Fees 



Closing 
Price 



Item not 
sold 



SO C 1 ■ 
S25.00 



S25.01 - 
S1.000.00 



Over 
S1.000.01 



Final Value Fee 



No Fee 



5.25% of the closing value 



5.25% of the initial $26.00 ($1.31), plus 
2.75% of the remaining closing value 
balance ($25 01 to S1 000.00) 



5.25% of the initial S25 00 (S1.31). plus 
2.75% of the initial S25.00 - 11.000.00 
(S26 81) plus 1.50% of the remaining 
closing value balance (51.000.01 - 
closing value) 



28 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Quick Guides 






Link your site to eBay 

H you li awe your own web page, you ten uae (heee bu 



10 il; ycur ,isitora 1o eBay! 



• ftnu*i :i fruct link In II K;iy himii! puiy! 

J ji iipliitL- Iho ' ji ii i iiL-' jv# lu^i!* Luiiy --n,:i ui;l- jnu lo t-IijII uB J >■ liUHwi 
Select the Cutioni>| you *iah to display 


- «> Iff"* P 


D Ge IP ^jj y Llnka ta 1h& eB "y hD ™ F^S* 


Mi liihnsa -:■..;'. ; v :€d link (hot goes diraaly tea lial efitams 


um ef pejefa) where you plan 1o diaelay button? (required): 









You mual agree to this link Agreement" before you use Pieae eBay approved graphica on your 



You can use eBay buttons to link to your item 
listings from another Web site. 



eBay lets you save your favorite 
searches, sellers, and categories to the 
My Favorites section of your My eBay 
page. (They also appear on the main 
eBay page.) You can add these items to 
your list while viewing them by clicking 
the Add To Favorites link. You can also 
add a favorite seller or category from 
within My Favorites by clicking the ap- 
propriate Add A Favorite link below 
each of them. 

89. What are My Messages? 
Following the My Messages link on 

your My eBay page will take you to 
correspondence from eBay to you. This 
includes alerts about your account as 
well as notices about upcoming events 
on eBay. You can also read general an- 
nouncements about eBay on this page. 

90. What is an About Me page? 
Different from your My eBay page, 

an About Me page tells other users 
about your interests and your role in 
eBay. It's a great way to assure trading 
partners that you're a good match. To 
create an About Me page, click the 
Services link in the top banner and 
click the About Me Page link under 
Member Reputation. 

91. What are eBay Groups? 

eBay groups are made up of users 
who have common interests. The 
groups give them a forum for public or 
private discussion of topics such as 
coin collecting, book clubs, and so on. 
To find a group, just follow the Groups 
link on the Community page. (Click 



the Community tab on the main eBay 
page.) If you find a group you'd like to 
join, just click the Join button. 

PayPal 

92. What is PayPal? 

PayPal is an online payment service 
that lets you make and receive pay- 
ments at a large range of online vendors 
and sites, including eBay. You have a 
credit card or bank account attached to 
PayPal, but the company uses encryp- 
tion and security protocols to protect 
transactions. It's the preferred way to 
pay and receive payment on eBay. 

93. How do I sign up for PayPal? 
There are many links to the PayPal 

service from within eBay. You can click 
the PayPal link at the main eBay page 
and then click the Sign Up Now but- 
ton. You can also click My Accounts on 
your My eBay page, scroll down to My 
PayPal Account Information, and click 
the Sign Up button. 

94. What if Fm already signed up? 

If you already have a PayPal account 
that you'd like to use with eBay, you can 
link it to your eBay account. On your 
My eBay page, click the My Accounts 
link on the left and then scroll down to 
My PayPal Account Information. Click 
the Link to My PayPal Account button 
and then log into your PayPal account, 
and the two will be linked. 

Security 

95. How do I know if I have received 
a spoof email? 

eBay will never ask you for your 
personal information via email. Just 
because an email has an eBay.com ad- 
dress in the From field doesn't neces- 
sarily mean it's from eBay. If you have 
any doubt about an email's validity, 
use the eBay site to log in instead. 
eBay also has a tutorial on spotting 
fake emails at pages.ebay.com/edu 
cation/spooftutorial. 



96. How do I report email fraud? 

If you think you've received a fraud- 
ulent email, simply forward it to 
spoof@ebay.com. Don't change the 
headers or send it as an attachment, 
just forward the message in its entirety. 

97. How do I make sure I'm signing 
into eBay's site? 

There have been reports of bogus 
Web sites attempting to get users to 
sign into their site with eBay login in- 
formation. You can ensure that you are 
logging into an official eBay site by 
checking to make sure that ebay.com 
comes before the first forward slash (/) 
in the Web address. 

98. What if I already replied to a 
fraudulent email? 

If you sent personal information, 
such as an account number, via email, 
contact your bank or credit company 
immediately. It's also a good idea to 
keep tabs on your My eBay page to 
make sure that there hasn't been any 
unauthorized use of your account. 

99. How can I protect my account? 

Choose a unique User ID and Pass- 
word that are different from your other 
online accounts. You should also 
change your password every month or 
two. Don't respond to requests for sen- 
sitive information (including eBay login 
info) via email. Use antivirus software 
and a firewall to prevent attacks. 

100. What is eBay Time? 

eBay Time is the official time of the 
eBay site. Because the eBay headquar- 
ters are located in San Jose, Calif., eBay 
Time is Pacific Standard Time (PST). 

101. How do I close my eBay 
account? 

If you don't want to use eBay any- 
more, you can close your account 
through Customer Service. Click the 
Help tab and then click the Contact Us 
link on the left. In the first box, click 
Ask About Registration, Passwords, 
Changing Email/User ID. In the second 
box, click Close Or Combine Accounts. 
In the third box, click Closing Your eBay 
Account. Click Continue and then click 
Email to submit a closure request. S 

by Joel Strauch 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 29 



All About eBAY 




The Worid's 

Online 
Marketplace 

Supply & Demand Go Global On eBay 



It was never really about selling 
a girlfriend's PEZ dispensers. 
Used computer parts, sure, 
and definitely Beanie Babies, 
but not PEZ candy dispens- 
ers any more than hundreds of oth- 
er collectibles. 




Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder and chairman. 



eBay.com had already been hosting 
online auctions for two years be- 
fore early employee Mary Lou Song 
thought up the phony origin of the 
fledgling company. She told the press 
that founder Pierre Omidyar had in- 
vented eBay to give his girlfriend and 
other PEZ collectors a trading commu- 
nity in cyberspace. She hoped to ignite 
the publicity storm the company finally 
felt ready to handle. 

It worked — and how. eBay became 
the online auction site for most of the 
world, period. Users can put nearly 
anything up for sale, and potential 
buyers from all over the world can ei- 
ther bid on the item or buy it at a pre- 
determined price. When the auction 
ends, the high bidder pays the seller the 
winning price plus postage, and the 
seller ships the item. eBay charges a 
small fee to post an item listing, plus a 
percentage of the final selling price. 

It may seem like a risky business 
buying goods sight unseen from a 
stranger you'll never meet, but eBay's 
ecosystem works surprisingly well. 
Buyers get to leave feedback for the 
seller and award positive, neutral, or 
negative points to her, so potential 




bidders can see how trustworthy others 
consider her. A few negative feedback 
points can really hurt a seller's chances 
of getting bids, not to mention reduce 
the value of bids she does get, so it pays 
for her to be as upfront and prompt as 
possible. Every item auction lists the 
seller's number of positive feedback 
points next to her name, along with a 
star graphic that changes color as she 
reaches various feedback milestones. 

Competitor sites have come and 
gone, but none has reached the neces- 
sary critical mass in its user base to 




eBay CEO Meg Whitman. 



30 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



FACTOID 



eBay's First Categories, 1995 

Computer Hardware 

Software 

Consumer Electronics 

Antiques & Collectibles 

Books & Comics 

Automotive 

Miscellaneous 

(Source: "The Perfect Store: Inside eBay" by Adam Cohen.) 

lure many sellers away from eBay. 
Sellers will go where the most buyers 
(and, therefore, potential bids) are. 

eBay didn't stake out this enviable 
position overnight, although it certainly 
seemed to by the standards of business 
before the Web. It's the biggest success 
story of the dot-com era, and it all hap- 
pened in Internet time. 

eBackground 

Ironically, this Internet commerce 
powerhouse got its start on Labor Day 
weekend, traditionally a time of rest 
for American workers. Founder Pierre 
Omidyar was an idealistic and rather 
laid-back programmer, according to 
Adam Cohen in "The Perfect Store: 
Inside eBay." Omidyar decided to add 
a simple auction page to his personal 
Web site. He wrote the code over the 
weekend of Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, 1995, 
then listed some of his used computer 
parts for sale. 



Traffic to Omidyar's page was slow 
at first, although his announcements 
on Usenet newsgroups and word of 
mouth brought a few visitors his way. 
He called the dark grey page Auction- 
Web. Users could post items for sale in 
its seven categories, view the other auc- 
tions going on, and place bids. 

AuctionWeb seemed to be just a cute 
hobby until Omidyar's broken laser 
pointer ignited a small bidding war. 
When this gizmo he had clearly de- 
scribed as useless sold for $14, Omidyar 
realized he might be on to something. 

Omidyar hadn't charged Auction- 
Web's users a penny thus far, but that 
changed when his ISP (Internet service 
provider) demanded that he pay for a 
business account in light of the bal- 
looning bandwidth the site was using. 
Reluctantly, Omidyar levied a small fee 
on each sale. To his surprise, so many 
envelopes of money showed up in his 
mailbox that he soon had to hire part- 
time help to open them all. Unlike 
almost any other Internet startup, Auc- 
tionWeb showed a profit from the start. 

Omidyar's auction page quickly 
grew beyond computer parts as collec- 
tors of Beanie Babies and other popular 
items started making friends with each 
other on the site's message boards. 
From the very beginning, Auction- 
Web's thriving community set it apart 
from competing sites, shaping its poli- 
cies and keeping users from straying. 
Helpful, comical personalities, such as 
Jim "Uncle Griff Griffith, Patti "Aunt 



Patti" Ruby, and Jane "Pongo" Dee, 
emerged to answer new users' ques- 
tions. Griffith and Ruby later came to 
work for eBay. Meanwhile, chief pro- 
grammer Mike Wilson kept users ap- 
prised of the state of new projects on 
the site as the legendary "Skippy." 

By the end of 1996, Omidyar and 
his growing band of co-workers had 
set up a low-budget but whimsical of- 
fice in the Greylands Business Park in 
Campbell, Calif. Just as Omidyar was 
the polar opposite of a typical CEO, 
more visionary philosopher than cor- 
porate raider, his tight hold on the 
purse strings also flew in the face of the 
wastefulness of most dot-coms of the 
era. Everyone in the office carried his 
own paper when he wanted to use the 
shared photocopier. Card tables and 
beach chairs made up much of the 
office furniture, and new hires invari- 
ably had to assemble their own desks 
during their first days on the job. 

1997 proved to be a watershed year 
for AuctionWeb. The site had become 
so explosively popular that it had justi- 
fied Omidyar's idea of an equal- oppor- 
tunity marketplace, as well as President 
Jeff Skoll's business acumen. But 
AuctionWeb had grown so much that 
it had to, in effect, grow up. 

The original Perl (Practical Extrac- 
tion and Report Language) foundation 
of the company's software couldn't 
scale much higher, and ever- increasing 
site traffic continually brought down its 
servers. The site's remarkable revenues 



TIMELINE 




Sept. 1, 1997: Auction Web's name 






February 1996: To cover bandwidth 


changes to eBay. 










costs, Omidyar imposes final-value 


December 1997: First sniping (au- 






fees. The business, located at the 


tomated last-minute bidding) by 






domain name eBay.com, becomes 


David Eccles using his software, 






profitable from its first month. 


Cricket Jr. eBay counters with 






Also, the Feedback Forum and user 


proxy bidding. Proxy bidding auto- 






ratings are born. 


matically places bids for would-be 






Mid-1996: AuctionWeb starts to 


buyers when they're outbid by 


Feb. 1, 1998: Meg Whitman becomes CEO. 




charge listing fees, ostensibly to cut 


someone else, up to a maximum 


June 1998: First board of directors. 


Sept. 2 to 4, 1995: Pierre 


down on frivolous auctions. 


value set by the bidder. 


June 29, 1998: 1 millionth registered user. 


Omidyar writes the code for 


Late 1996: The eBay Cafe becomes 


Dec. 25, 1997: eBay's new logo de- 


Sept. 24, 1998: eBay's IPO. The stock closes 


AuctionWeb, an auction page 


the first of many officially social 


buts along with the familiar white 


at Vh times its opening price, making many 


on his personal Web site. 


message boards on the site. 


home page. 


eBay employees millionaires. 



'95 



'96 



'97 



'98 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 31 



All About eBAY 



would inevitably attract the notice of 
auditors, which meant that its small- 
business accounting system needed an 
enterprise-level overhaul. And Auc- 
tionWeb's core executives desperately 
needed big-league guidance and leader- 
ship if the company was going to fend 
off rivals such as Auction Universe and 
Onsale Exchange, let alone potential 
bogeymen such as Yahoo!, Amazon 
.com, and AOL. 

Because AuctionWeb's host domain 
was eBay.com — Omidyar had wanted 
to call it EchoBay.com, but that name 
was taken — most users called the site 
eBay. This became the official name 
in September 1997. Also, the multicol- 
ored jumble of letters that has been and 
is eBay's logo to this day debuted on 
Christmas Day in 1997. In the months 
leading up to the launch of the new face 
of eBay, "Skippy" Wilson gradually 
brightened the home page one hexadec- 
imal value per day until it had the fa- 
miliar white background you'll see 
today. There was a great deal more 
change behind the scenes, however, as 
the company secured more robust tech- 
nology for day-to-day operation. And 
an even bigger change was in store. 

The Whitman era. Meg Whitman 
took the job of chief executive officer in 
early February 1998, and Omidyar 
eased into the position of chairman 
with some relief. Like most new em- 
ployees, Whitman was initially unim- 
pressed by eBay's garage-sale furniture 
and chaotic, communal management 



style. She wasn't even all that familiar 
with the Internet, eBay's entire reason 
for existing. But the company's balance 
sheets and growth numbers, which 
looked fantastic even in the dot-com 
gold rush, made Whitman take a closer 
look and ultimately sign on. 

Whitman's experience at Hasbro, 
Disney, and other major companies 
proved to be a real asset as eBay came 
of age. She took in stride several busi- 
ness problems that had been worrying 
eBay's less experienced personnel. At 
the same time, several of the idealistic 
"old guard" employees found them- 
selves resentful of the business goals 
Whitman and her new hires set out for 
the company. eBay had hired a handful 
of Ivy League executives in the past, but 
this became more the rule than the ex- 
ception after Whitman took the helm. 

If eBay's old-timers were idealistic, 
many on the site's message boards 
were much more so. Vociferous users, 
having invested much of their time in 
eBay's community and built businesses 
in it, worried that the company would 
lose its focus on the individual buyer 
and seller as it began to behave like a 
big business, Cohen writes. They had 
taken to heart Omidyar's vision of 
"eBaysian" culture, in which individ- 
uals could compete with commercial 
retailers on a level playing field. 

The community occasionally went 
ballistic when it thought that eBay had 
implemented objectionable changes 
without consulting its user base, such 



FACTOID 



Top eBay Search Terms Of 2004 

1.RV 
2. Louis Vuitton 

3. Moon 

4. BMW 

5. Gold 

6. DVD 

7. Case 

8. Pink 

9. CD 
10. Sony 

(Source: USA Today) 



as placing ads among auction listings 
in 2000 and abruptly banning gun 
sales in 1999. (See "Not Quite Every- 
thing Under The Sun" on page 95 for 
more on items you can't sell on eBay.) 
Whitman soon learned that commu- 
nity involvement was unusually vital to 
eBay's strategy and convened an advi- 
sory board of prominent users and 
critics for future feedback. 

eBay went public on Sept. 24, 1998, 
putting an end to a long stretch in 
which no other tech companies had 
tendered an initial public offering. 
eBay's stock opened at $18; it nearly 
tripled that day before settling at 47-3/8 
at the final bell. In other words, many 
employees with shares in the company 
suddenly became millionaires. 

Growing pains. eBay went on its 
first major foray overseas in June 1999. 



January 1999: eBay establishes antifraud measures to 






Mid- to Late-2004: 


discourage nonpaying buyers and shrills. 


April 24, 2000: eBay launches 




eBay expands its 


February 1999: eBay bans gun sales. On Sept. 13, eBay 


eBay Motors. 


May 3, 2001: eBay bans 


presence in India, 


also bans most alcohol and tobacco sales. 


July 2000: eBay buys Half.com. 


items related to post- 


Germany, South 


Early 1999: Negative feedback is restricted to the parties 


Summer 2000: Pierre 


World War II Nazism, 


Korea, the 


of a transaction to reduce flaming. To reduce shilling, 


Omidyar leaves eBay's daily 


racist organizations, 


Philippines, 


positive feedback is made transactional in March 2000. 


office scene to become a full- 


and violent crimes. 


Malaysia, and the 


June 10 to 11, 1999: A major 22-hour outage hurts 


time philanthropist. 


September 2001: eBay 


Netherlands. 


public confidence in eBay. It also leads to a technology 


August 2000: eBay Real Estate 


announces its Auction 


Dec. 16, 2004: 


revamp and a shakeup in the engineering department. 


debuts. 


For America to benefit 


eBay announces 


June 1999: eBay buys German auction site Alando.de 


December 2000: The Buy It 


those affected by the 


an agreement to 


and begins its international growth. 


Now feature arrives, letting 


World Trade Center 


October 2002: 


buy rental 


Aug. 26, 1999: The infamous prank auction of a human 


bidders pay a specific price to 


attacks. It raises $10 


eBay buys 


housing site 


kidney inspires other hoaxes and raises eyebrows. 


buy an item right away. 


million in 100 days. 


PayPal. 


Rent.com. 



'99 



'00 



'01 



'02 



'04 



32 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



Number Of eBay Auction Listings 


W Confirmed Registered eBay Users 


1,400 


1,412.6/ 


1,200 


/ 


1,000 


/ 


800 


^971 


600 


^638.3 


c 


400 


423.1 


£ 


200 


135.5 


90 


/MS) 


70 


/ 


50 


y^GW 




30 


42.4 







'01 '02 '03 '04 






Year 



It bought the German auction site 
Alando.de, and a few weeks later 
launched eBay UK across the English 
Channel. This kicked off a trend of in- 
ternationalization for the auction site. 
The company had users worldwide, 
but hurdles in language, currency ex- 
change, and shipping rates made it 
clear that users preferred to deal with 
others near their geographic locations. 

Amidst all the euphoria of expan- 
sion, however, eBay's board of direc- 
tors hadn't invested heavily enough in 
technology, specifically in redundant 
backup systems. A 22 -hour outage that 
same June made this plain. Such a long 
outage reminded many employees of 
the site's early days, but back then eBay 
hadn't had millions of users. Whitman 
initiated a major overhaul of the site's 
backend and shuffled the technical 
staff. Outages still happened occasion- 
ally, but none were as severe. 

eBay bought fixed-price used goods 
site Half.com early the next year, real- 
izing that many users would rather 
buy a used CD or book immediately at 
a known price than to compete against 



other bidders and wait for an auction 
to finish. By the end of 2000, an ac- 
knowledgement of this market segment 
crept into eBay's auctions as the Buy It 
Now feature. 

The company acknowledged the 
power of another market segment in 
April 2000 with eBay Motors, a sepa- 
rate Web site devoted to buying and 
selling cars. eBay had resisted sales of 
complete cars and trucks until August 
1999, reasoning that buyers would 
never warm to the idea of buying such 
expensive goods without first checking 
them out in person. To the surprise 
of many, the prevailing wisdom proved 
to be dead wrong. Today, eBay Motors 
brings in the most gross merchandise 
volume of any category at $10.7 million 
per quarter (as of Sept. 30, 2004). 
That's more than four times the GMV 
of the company's runner-up categories, 
Consumer Electronics and Computers. 

eBay Today 

eBay currently employs about 7,000 
people globally, not counting the thou- 
sands of businesspeople who make their 
livings using the site. It encompasses 
Baazee.com in India, EachNet, Internet 
Auction, and mobile.de in Germany. 
The jewel in the eBay crown, how- 
ever, is online payment clearinghouse 
PayPal, which the company bought in 
2002. With 17.4 million active accounts 
and a total payment volume of $4.6 bil- 
lion (as of Sept. 30, 2004), PayPal is a 
trusted service that complements eBay's 
auction business very well. 

As of the end of 2004, the site had 
135.5 million users, 56.1 million of 
whom had bid on or sold an item with- 
in the previous year. Its 1.4 billion item 
listings mark a phenomenal 45% in- 
crease over 2003's total. eBay's gross 
merchandise volume came to more 
than $34 billion in 2004, up 44% from 
the previous year. 

The company's impact on the small- 
business market has been nothing but 
evil or an absolute godsend, depending 
upon whom you talk to. Some dealers 
have flourished, but others have had to 



Gross Merchandise Volume On eBay 


40 






$342. 




30 


^^ 


CO 


20 


.^"$23.8 




10 


^^^*$14.9 
•193 







'01 '02 '03 '04 






Year 



specialize or shift their focus to items 
that only sell well in person. 

Now that the barriers between buyer 
and seller are lower than ever, some col- 
lectibles don't bring the prices they used 
to. Other items have increased in value 
as eBay's easy access has encouraged 
more people to start collecting them. 

Some longtime collectors bemoan 
the decline of the swap meet, with its 
face-to-face interaction and hands-on 
trading experience. Why bother to 
schlep your wares to a flea market, they 
ask, when last year's attendees are 
home shopping online? Other sellers 
have been happy to set up virtual shops 
on the auction site. The only schlep- 
ping they care to do is to the post office 
to mail a sale. 

eBaysian Economics 

Whatever else one might say about 
eBay's effect on society, one thing 
seems clear. It affords a clearer picture 
of the real market value of an item than 
was available before 1995. Instead of 
classified ads in local papers or special 
interest magazines with limited cir- 
culation, eBay offers a centralized, 
worldwide repository of items for sale. 
Rather than a few bidders who happen 
upon an auction or swap meet, eBay is 
open to millions. 

With growing classes of consumers 
worldwide, many with more disposable 
income than ever before, the selling 
prices of many auctionable items may 
continue to rise. And so, it seems, may 
the star of the No. 1 auction site. H 

by Marty Sems 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 33 



All About eBAY 



Small Worid, 
Huge Web Site 

An Organized User Interface 
Helps Users Find It, Buy It, Or Sell It 




With its scrolling marquee, 
product pictures, and more 
than 150 links, eBay's main 
page is nothing if not busy. But we 
don't blame eBay for cramming so 
much information into a single page. 
The front page acts as a doorway to 
the biggest digital auction venue in 
the world. Brand-new electronics, 
one-of-a-kind antique furniture, and 
everything in between lie just beyond 



this one page, not to mention the slew 
of instructions, policies, services, and 
tools that help users buy, sell, and re- 
solve disputes. Ready to dive in? 

Find Member Services 

Not surprisingly, eBay organizes 
its massive pool of links by category, 
starting with the main page. As a re- 
sult, you can generally find an item 



or service by first locating the item's 
category and then browsing the var- 
ious subcategories. eBay uses this 
category/subcategory method to or- 
ganize all of the site's contents, in- 
cluding member services and tools. 
However, you won't find a Member 
Services link on the home page. 
Instead, eBay devotes the entire 
banner at the top to member service 
links. Unlike other home page sec- 
tions, the banner appears on many of 
the other pages within the site, which 
means you can easily log into your 
account and begin buying or selling 
activities at any time. 

If you know exactly what you're 
looking for, type a keyword into the 
site's search engine, but we recom- 
mend that new users (who have al- 
ready registered with eBay) start with 
links in the banner's white bar: Buy, 
Sell, My eBay, Community, and Help. 
Each link opens a page that displays 
multiple subcategories, which means 
that if you know what you're looking 
for (but you're not sure what eBay 
calls it) you can search by association. 
For example, if you plan to be one of 
the top sellers on eBay and want to 
know whether eBay rewards suc- 
cessful sellers, you'd start your search 
by clicking Sell and then browsing the 
subcategories for something that con- 
tains unusual seller features. Sure 
enough, the Advance Selling section 
has a PowerSeller Program link that 
offers program details and automati- 
cally determines whether you qualify 
for the program. 

Find Stores & Services 

eBay's main page also includes a 
Specialty Sites section that links to 
some unusual and high-value sec- 
tions (unlike the navigational banner, 
the Specialty Sites link is available 
only from the home page). For ex- 
ample, you won't find your favorite 
car in eBay's main auction area be- 
cause eBay assigns all vehicles (and 
many vehicle parts) to a separate sec- 
tion, eBay Motors. The Motors area 



34 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 




BMW I Hailgy-Cavidsnn I Hand; 

Parts & Accessaries 






Ford Mustang 
Cheuv Coruette 







Otter 

Other Vehicles 



Collector Car 
Minivans S Vans 
SUVs 



Automobilia 
Car Audio & E 



Farm Equipment 
Forklifts & Skid Steers 
Vintage Toy V 



Find Cars with Smart Search 

Find cars by Price. Year, and Location 

Try "Best Offer" newi 

See items lists; flttithenen Best Offer tool. 



"Want it Now" allows sellers to search through 
posts and respond with eBay Motors listings. 

Find Parts with Advanced Parts Search 

Find parts by ', ake and/oi , ::lel and Year 
Editors' Charity Challenge 

Ten teams. Ten projects. One Charity. Read all 
about the cars, trucks, and motorcycles created 
with eBay Motors. 

Premium Motors - Over S100K 

Find the vehicle you've always wanted 
Insurance Center 

Get Auto Insurance Quotes 



» 




That's right, you can sell cars on eBay. In fact, you can sell just about 
any vehicle, whether it sails, drives, or flies. 



is part of eBay and has a similar inter- 
face, but it has options that other sec- 
tions of eBay don't such as financing. 
Half.com, an eBay company, also has 
its own section of eBay's massive site. 
Although the interface resembles 
eBay's, the site doesn't house auc- 
tions; it's a store that sells new and 
used items at discounted prices. You 
can use your eBay account to shop 
(whether bidding or buying) in either 
of these sections. 

The Specialty Sites section also in- 
cludes eBay Stores, which lets users 
browse individual store offerings 
and place bids. You'll also find a link 



to PayPal, eBay's online financial 
transaction service, in this area. 
Many eBay sellers and stores let 
buyers complete transactions via 
PayPal, which can pull the funds to 
pay for your purchases from your 
credit card or checking account. 
Finally, there's a link to new feature 
called Want It Now, in which users 
can post the names of and descrip- 
tions for items they'd like to see for 
sale on eBay. Sellers can browse 
Want It Now posts to help focus 
their inventories and to match spe- 
cific products they have with buyers 
who have expressed interest. 



Find Auctions 

Just as you can search for member 
services by category, you can also 
search for auctions by category. (See 
"Wading Through It All" on page 58 
for more information about eBay cat- 
egories.) The eBay home page lists all 
of the main item categories. Chances 
are, you'll determine which category 
houses your item as soon as you 
glance at this list, but if not, you'll 
need to browse the subcategories. 
eBay has two subcategory display 
methods: individual category pages 
and the All Categories page. If you 
click any of the links in the home 
page's Category section, you'll enter a 
page dedicated to that category. For 
example, the Cameras & Photo link 
opens the Cameras & Photography 
page, which displays a subcategory 
map. eBay also takes advantage of 
these category pages to display fea- 
tured items, and each category page 
has a specialized search tool for 
finding items within that category. 

The All Categories page, on the 
other hand, acts as a site map for 
every category and its subcategories. 
To search this huge auction site map, 
visit eBay's home page and then click 
See All eBay Categories at the bottom 
of the Categories list on the left of 
the page. This link opens the Buy 
page, which displays the main cate- 
gories and some subcategories. Click 
See All Categories at the bottom of 
this list to display the All Categories 
auction site map. 

Before You Take The Plunge 

Keep in mind that eBay regularly 
changes its home page's interface and 
the appearance of other pages within 
the site. Our graphics and descrip- 
tions of item locations are accurate as 
we go to print, but you may find that 
some descriptions and instructions 
differ from eBay's site by the time you 
read this issue. H 

by Joshua Gulick 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 35 



All About eBAY 



Getting Around eBay 

eBay regularly tweaks its interface, which means that 
some of these graphics and features may differ slightly 
from the graphics and features on today's site. 



ebY£2j-fe 




fy My eBay 




Think of the My eBay page as your 
command center. This section lets 
you change your personal informa- 
tion and keep track of items you're 
selling, bidding on, or simply 
watching. The customizable inter- 
face lets you push the your favorite 
summaries to the top of the page 
so you can check the most impor- 
tant information at a glance. 



Community 



Don't give up if the Help sec- 
tion doesn't answer your 
question. eBay's vast user 
community answers questions 
everyday via the site's Answer 
Center. You can also trade auc- 
tion tips and tricks with fellow 
members in the Chat Rooms or 
by posting on the Discussion 
Boards. 





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Start here when you visit eBay 

for the first time. Once you sign up for a free account in the 

Register now section, you can buy or sell right away. 



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Feature Items 

Choose the Feature Items option when you 
list your item, and your listing may appear on 
the main page. Now that's advertising. 



Categories 
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Books 

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Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Brazil Canada China France Germany Hong Kong India Ireland Italy Korea * 



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Shortcuts to My Favorites 

Add Favorite Searches in My eBay. 



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Scrolling Marquee 



The scrolling marquee has 
links to new programs, tools, 
and auctions. 



My Favorites Shortcut 

If you regularly search for certain items or buy from a specific 
Seller, you'll love this shortcut bar. You can add multiple searches 
and sellers and then select one from the drop-down menu. 



36 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 




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Global Sites 



Why sell your items only to the United 
States when you can sell them to the 
world? You can also buy from eBay ven- 
dors worldwide. 



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planning bids and listings. eBay dis- 
plays the official eBay Time for Pacific, 
Mountain, Central, and Eastern regions 
of the United States. 



{^J Categories 

Use eBay's huge category 
list to narrow your search. 
If you can't find the appro- 
priate category on the 
main page, click See All 
eBay Categories. 




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Visit and participate in real-time auctions 
from your desk. You can place bids through 
your eBay account, but you'll need to register 
for each auction separately. 



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Countries 



Not in the United States? Shop eBay France, 
Germany, Hong Kong, and others. 



eBay Motors 

You can buy boats, cars, trucks, and even 
planes at this specialty site. Vroom. 



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Specialty Sites 



You'll find 

new eBay sites <j™f 

here that offer ( Halfco ™ b Y e Jfoi 

PayPal 

special auction (want unowned ) 

venues and 

services. 




Want It Now 

If you can't find the item you want to buy, 
advertise that you're in the market for the 
item in eBay's new section for buyers. 



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Don't like the bidding process? Skip it at 
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Reference Series / Guide To eBay 37 



All About eBAY 



Come Together 

Get To Know Your Cyber Neighbors At The 
eBay Community 

/ ft 




The Roman Empire's road system, 
Gutenberg's printing press, and 
Tesla's modern radio; all were 
invented with at least some idea of 
mass communication or idea transfer 
in mind. You can say the same about 
the Internet and even eBay. Although 
its primary function is to connect 
buyers and sellers to facilitate com- 
merce, eBay goes to great lengths to 
help users share ideas and construct a 
cyber community. An obvious example 
of eBay attempting to stimulate com- 
munication is its Community page. 
Let's take a closer look at the features 
that have so many eBay users talking. 

eBay Values 

eBay's Community area is built on 
the premise that all users have a basic 
set of values in common. After all, trust 
is a huge part of the online auctioning 
format. Although these command- 
ments aren't offset by a blazing display 
of fluorescent colors or flashing lights, 
it is easy to view the moral code. It is 
modestly set on the lower-right side of 
the page and reads as follows: 
• We believe people are basically good. 
•We believe everyone has something to 

contribute. 
•We believe that an honest, open environ- 
ment can bring out the best in people. 



•We recognize and respect everyone as a 

unique individual. 
•We encourage you to treat others the 

way you want to be treated. 

These values may seem blatantly op- 
timistic with the world we live in today, 
but we have been pleasantly surprised 
by how approachable and easy to work 
with all of the users we met have been. 

Feedback Forum 

This is one of the added features to 
the newly revamped Community page. 
If there's anything you ever wanted to 
know about feedback, this is definitely 
the place to go. The Feedback Forum 
also houses useful links that can take 
you to items that you need to leave 
feedback for. If you've ever been puz- 
zled by confusing feedback left on your 
profile, or if you've ever had any other 
feedback issues, you know how frus- 
trating it can be not being able to 
quickly resolve the situation. This fea- 
ture can save your time and sanity. 

Connect 

The Connect section of the page 
(formerly the Talk section) is the place 
to go to get in touch with other users 
and discuss just about anything. 



Discussion Boards. eBay offers a 
wide variety of both chat rooms and 
discussion boards. If you are looking 
to improve your overall knowledge of 
a certain topic, say computers, check 
out the Computers, Networking & I.T. 
discussion board. You will find topics 
ranging from PC sales to trouble- 
shooting your cooling system. Just 
click the topic that interests you, and 
you'll see the original message and the 
replies to that post. This is also a nice 
way to get help over time. If you have a 
question and are interested in getting 
some different perspectives, don't be 
afraid to post a board of your own. In 
a few days' time you will likely receive 
a variety of different responses. As 
the discussion board tutorial warns, 
though, it's better to lurk a while and 
familiarize yourself with the kinds of 
topics under discussion before starting 
a new thread. That way you'll avoid 
posting a thread that has already been 
dealt with very recently, a pet peeve of 
veteran board users everywhere. 

Groups. The Group center of the 
eBay community makes it easy for you 
to get in touch with folks who share 
your interests. There are a number of 
criteria you can use to find a group that 
can best relate to you. These criteria in- 
clude finding groups by region, special 
interest, or amount of eBay experience. 

To see what eBay Groups are all 
about (and because we recently pur- 
chased a 1967 Ernie Banks baseball 
card), we decided to join SCCU (Sport 
Card Collectors Unite). As the name 
suggests, members of this group col- 
lect baseball, basketball, football, and 
hockey sports cards and memorabilia. 

After filling out a quick membership 
application, we were logged into the site 
in no time. This group's home page fea- 
tures links to member lists, announce- 
ments, discussion boards, photo 
albums, an events calendar, and more. 

We headed onto the discussion 
board, and always looking to expand 
our collection of Joe Montana cards, 
we clicked the Football Cards topic 
title. This led to a post from a gen- 
tleman who was helping his father cash 



38 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



in his football card collection. 
They were in the process of 
listing more than 125,000 cards, 
and they were giving members a 
heads-up to watch for the auc- 
tions. We'd been members of the 
Group for less than 10 minutes, 
and already we were privy to an 
offer that we would otherwise 
have missed out on. 

Needless to say SCCU isn't the 
only group out there. If you can 
name a hobby, chances are there 
is a Group that supports it. There 
are collector clubs for just about 
everything under the sun, and 
there are special- interest groups 
dedicated to discussing anything 
from books to BMWs. 

Answer Center. If you're 
looking for an answer to a fairly 
general question the Connect 
portion of the eBay Community 
page also features the Answer 
Center. This collection of eBay- 
focused discussion boards is a 
great place to check for answers 
to questions on PayPal, My 
eBay, and other general topics. 

Chat Rooms. Discussion 
boards are great for finding in- 
formation if your topic has al- 
ready been discussed or if you 
have time to wait for replies to 
pile up for a day or two, but the 
chat rooms are helpful when you 
have questions that require an- 
swers right away. We posted a 
quick question about power sup- 
plies and their compatibility 
with certain motherboards and 
CPUs at 3:02 p.m., and by 3:33 
we had received five responses 
from three users. Their replies 
included personal experiences 
and advice, as well as pointers to 
Web sites we could visit to ana- 
lyze our system components and 
suggest a power supply. 

News 

Not much mystery about what 
you'll find in this section. Get the 



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Joining a collectors' club, such as Sports Card Collectors 
Unite, can put you in touch with sellers and deals you 
otherwise might not have found, not to mention people 
who love the same stuff you do. 




With this many chat rooms to choose from, you shouldn't 
have any trouble finding people to talk to. 



latest info, all tucked neatly into 
one easy-to-click spot. 

Announcements. The An- 
nouncements section on the eBay 
site gives users the inside scoop 
on what's going on with eBay. If 
you scroll past the Connect sec- 
tion, you'll see a row of headlines, 
along with the date and time they 
were posted. If a certain headline 
piques your interest, just click it 
to bring up the full article. You 
can find announcements on all 
sorts of eBay- related events, in- 
cluding eBay promotions to up- 
coming online classes. Click the 
System Announcements link 
below the first few headlines to 
bring up a page reserved for an- 
nouncing scheduled site mainte- 
nance, problems with particular 
site features, and so on. 

Calendar Events. If you want 
to get involved in your cyber 
community, there are plenty of 
opportunities out there. Check 
out the Calendar Events section 
of eBay Community and watch 
your social calendar fill up. 
Whether you're looking to learn 
more through workshops or 
give some of your time to on- 
line charities, it seems there is 
always something to do. 

This calendar includes notices 
for just about anything you can 
think of to take part in on eBay, 
and provides each event's start 
time, end time, and location. 

The Chatter Newsletter. Few 
things foster a sense of commu- 
nity like a newsletter, and that's 
where The Chatter comes in. 
This monthly publication offers 
feel- good stories and other mov- 
ing tales, stories about new and 
important additions to the eBay 
Web site, and a section called 
eBay In Person where you can 
read the transcripts from an in- 
terview with someone working 
behind the scenes at eBay. 

Member Spotlight. If you've 
ever wondered how people can 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 39 



All About eBAY 



make a full-time job out of selling 
on eBay, this is a great place to visit 
to find out. Every few weeks eBay 
offers a peek into the lives of eBay 
users who have compiled dis- 
tinguished buying and/or selling 
records. These people sit down for 
short interviews and answer ques- 
tions on buying, selling, using var- 
ious eBay features, and so on. 

If you're interested in throwing 
yourself into the eBay limelight 
and want to participate in the 
Member Spotlight, click the 
Program Guidelines link on the 
left side of the Member Spotlight 
page in the Choose A Topic box. 
You'll bring up the list of criteria 
eBay uses when selecting mem- 
bers to feature in the Spotlight, as 
well as an email address you can 
ping for a copy of the question- 
naire you need to fill out for eBay 
to consider you. 

Education 



A good education system is 
vital to any community, and the 
eBay Community is no exception. 

Workshops. eBay workshop 
events are great tools for novice 
and expert users alike. This work- 
shop calendar shows titles and dates of 
upcoming workshops; just click any of 
them that appeal to you for a blurb on 
the session that tells you who's hosting 
the workshop and what kinds of topics 
it will cover. You can even peruse tran- 
scripts of past workshops. 

Mentoring Groups. Mentoring 
Groups are where budding eBay buyers 
and sellers can gather to glean informa- 
tion from more experienced users. A 
mentor heads each group, and once 
you get permission to join, you can ask 
your mentor any question you'd like 
about eBay. 

Help Center and Learning Center. 
Two other helpful features in the 
Education section are the Help and 
Learning Centers. The Help Center is 
home to numerous FAQ documents 
broken into easy- to -browse categories. 






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The eBay Community page gives this worldwide enterprise a 
small-town feel. 



Here you can find tips dealing with spe- 
cific buying and selling conundrums, 
such as how to search effectively or 
under what conditions you can retract a 
bid. The Learning Center is home to 
numerous tutorials geared specifically 
toward new eBay users. Get step-by- 
step instructions on how to use various 
eBay features, as well as pointers on 
how to buy or sell products. 

Marketplace Safety 

If you've ever been frustrated by an 
eBay auction gone sour, you probably 
know what it's like to feel a little help- 
less. After all, what can you do when 
someone skips out on a payment and is 
half a world away? If you visit the 
Security & Resolution Center, you'll 
find articles on how to be safe on eBay. 



The area also features a problem 
report wizard that will help you 
file any grievances currently 
plaguing you. 



More Community Programs 

Your new community reaches 
around the world, which means 
that in addition to helping you 
make new friends from around 
the world, eBay can help you 
lend a helping hand to those in 
need around the world. eBay's 
Giving Works program arranges 
and promotes charity auctions 
on eBay. You can browse these 
special item listings by event, 
product category, or benefiting 
nonprofit organization. Causes 
range from natural disaster relief 
to animal rights, and regularly 
draw celebrity support. 

The More Community Pro- 
grams section is also your ticket 
to the Refer A Friend program 
that can help you gain Anything 
points toward future purchases. 
Another link opens a page where 
you can create an About Me 
page, and if you'd like to get in- 
volved with the technology be- 
hind eBay or volunteer to try out 
new features, this is the place. 

The Old Neighborhood 

The people who started eBay learned 
years ago that there was more to the 
world of online auctions than just com- 
merce; people spent lots of time around 
the site and formed tight communities 
that cared about the site and other users. 
If that sounds like trite marketing 
blather, head over to the eBay Com- 
munity page and see for yourself. 
Whether you have questions and need 
answers or you just want to meet new 
people, chances are you can find what 
you're looking for a click or two away, 
and pretty soon your cyber town will 
feel a little more like your hometown. Qjs] 

By Sam Evans 



40 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



The Whole Wide 
Worid 

Broaden Your Horizons With eBay's 
International Sites 




Although eBay may be of Amer- 
ican birth, its reach is global. 
And we're not just referring to 
the foreign users who frequent the U.S. 
site; as of this writing, eBay also has in- 
ternational sites in 25 countries. 

Should you head beyond your own 
borders? Ultimately that depends on 
whether what you stand to gain is 
worth the potential headaches from 
language barriers, currency exchange, 
and shipping risks (sticky-fingered 
postal inspectors, etc.). Not to mention 
the fact that each international eBay 
site is subject to local laws regarding 
what you can buy, sell, and ship. 

On Familiar Turf 

All of eBay's international sites are 
based on the American model, so al- 
though you may not understand the 
language, the sites will at least look and 
feel similar. (We'll have a suggestion 
below for converting foreign -language 
Web pages into English.) Even when 
the language is unfamiliar, if you're an 
experienced eBay user, the interface 
should look sufficiently recognizable 
for you to log in and conduct searches. 



Wait a minute — log in? Without 
first registering? That's right. In most 
cases, the foreign site will recognize 
your existing username and password. 
The two exceptions we could find were 
Bazee and Auction, the sites for India 
and South Korea, although these are a 
little different than the rest, with each 
described as "an eBay company" rather 
than an international eBay site. 

Once logged in, you can conduct 
transactions on these sites as well, al- 
though you should first determine if 
you have a compelling enough reason 
to do so. That may include making 
sure you're using the American site to 
its fullest extent. 

Considerations for buyers. The pri- 
mary reason you would want to visit an 
international site is to locate something 
you can't find on the American site. If 
you've been hunting high and low for a 
product made in Italy, for instance, and 
you're having trouble finding an im- 
porter here to buy from, eBay's Italian 
site may be worth a try. 

Even if you do locate the item, how- 
ever, make sure that the seller will do 
business with you. In the item descrip- 
tion, check for shipping restrictions. 



European sellers, for example, often 
will ship only within Europe. 

When it comes down to it, the U.S. 
site is eBay's true international hub, 
and most foreign sellers inclined to 
make overseas transactions already 
know that. So before looking abroad, 
make sure you've exhausted your 
search options on the domestic site. 

Rather than conducting a basic 
search, use the Advanced Search op- 
tion. The link is located in the upper- 
right corner of any eBay page. After 
you've typed your search terms into the 
entry fields, scroll down to the Loca- 
tion section. Here you can use the 
Items Located In and Items Available 
To drop- down menus to deviate from 
the default setting and possibly locate 
items that wouldn't appear otherwise. 

In our test searches on a specialized 
item, a Moog synthesizer, we got the 
following numbers of search results: 

• All items on eBay.com (default): 48 

• Items located in Any Country: 63 

• Items available to United States: 55 

As you can see, the default search 
turned up the fewest hits, so running 
three searches instead of one may help 
you dig up more foreign listings. 

Considerations for sellers. It's even 
harder to think of compelling reasons 
why the average eBay user would opt to 
sell on an international site. You'll reach 
by far the largest potential number of 
users via the American site. Just be sure, 
when listing your item, that you select 
one of the following options in the 
Ship-To Locations field of the Shipping 
& Payment Terms section: Will Ship 
Worldwide or Will Ship To The United 
States And The Following (and then use 
the list to choose the countries or re- 
gions you're willing to ship to). That 
way, offshore users are more likely to 
find your listing in their own searches. 

There are a couple of reasons for 
specifically targeting international sites, 
but these are more applicable to high- 
volume sellers: You want to concen- 
trate on building a customer base in a 
particular country, or you have mer- 
chandise worth a premium value there. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 41 



All About eBAY 



If you're just cleaning out your 
closet, the U.S. site is still your best bet. 

Doing Business In The Global Village 

If you do decide to buy and/or sell 
abroad, a few tips and tools will help 
you smooth out the complications. 

Found in translation. For automated 
translations to and from English, you 
may want to start with Google (www 
.google.com) and click the Language 
Tools link. You can paste in text for 
instant translations or URLs to translate 
entire Web pages. Also try Babel Fish 
(www.babelfish.altavista.com), which 
offers even more options than Google. 

Automated translations often sound 
clunky but will usually get the point 
across. For more refinement and to 
make sense of idioms that don't trans- 
late literally, try eBay's International 
Trading Board, where users sometimes 
volunteer translation help. 

Show me the dinero. For sending 
payments into and out of the United 
States, PayPal (www.paypal.com) is 
probably the simplest option. Because 
PayPal handles conversion, you can 
submit a payment in dollars, and your 
recipient will receive it in Euros, etc., 
and vice versa. Another option is to 
buy international money orders at 
www.bidpay.com with a credit card. 

So you'll know what to pay (or 
charge) in case eBay doesn't automati- 
cally display the price in both curren- 
cies, check the Universal Currency 
Converter (www.xe.com/ucc). 



&P 




H to your site. 

Tip: Click the "World Keyboard" link for a convenient method of SYSTRAN' 

entering accented or Russian characters. 



AltaVista's Babel Fish Translation tool can help 
you leap language barriers and make sense of 
foreign text and Web sites. 



Advice for sellers. As mentioned 
above, each international eBay site is 
subject to that country's regulations 
for what can be bought, sold, and 
shipped. To avoid honest mistakes 
and preventable complications, it's a 
good idea to check into any such reg- 
ulations for whatever country whose 
citizens you may be dealing with. 
Using UPS' Global Advisor (www.ups 
.com/ga/CountryRegs?loc=en_US), 
you can check regulations and restric- 
tions from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. 

To make life easier for you and your 
customers, you should familiarize 
yourself with the customs forms that 
are required for international ship- 
ments. Filling them out incorrectly 
may hold up delivery. Also, make sure 
that your buyer understands that he is 
responsible for paying any applicable 
import fees or value-added taxes above 
the purchase price and shipment costs. 

Don't force your buyer to pay higher 
fees than necessary. When declaring 
the shipment's value on the customs 
form, put down only the exact bid or 
purchase price, not the new retail value 
(if higher), and don't add in shipping 
costs. Sawder buyers may ask you to 
declare the item a gift instead of mer- 
chandise, so they might avoid import 
fees. You should politely decline and 
process the form truthfully. 

Domestic Help 

Finally, eBay itself is a great resource 
for the ins and outs of conducting 
worldwide transactions. The Inter- 
national Trading page (pages.ebay.com 
/globaltrade) provides consolidated ac- 
cess to the Universal Currency Convert- 
er, calculators for shipping and time 
zones, help topics, and lots more advice 
than we have room for here. If you're a 
seller, be sure to download the 10-page 
International Selling Toolkit for an ex- 
cellent overview of the whole process. 

Trading globally may present extra 
challenges, but it doesn't have to 
cause an international incident. Qjs] 

by Brian Hodge 



The World At Your 
Mouse Tip 



With sites in countries on every con- 
tinent but Africa and Antarctica, 
eBay has near-global coverage. Below is a 
listing of all 25 international sites outside 
the United States and their Web ad- 
dresses. Sites where English is the predomi- 
nant language are denoted with an 
asterisk (*), and there are more than you 
might expect: 10 in all. I 

Argentina 

www.m ercadol i bre.com.ar 

Australia* 

www.ebay.com.au 

Austria 

www.ebay.at 

Belgium 

www.ebay.be 

Brazil 

www.mercaciolivre.com.br 

Canada* 

www.ebay.ca 

China 

www.ebay.com.cn 

France 

www.ebay.fr 

Germany 

www.ebay.de 

Hong Kong 

www.ebay.com.hk 

India* 
www. baazee.com 

Ireland* 

pages.ebay.com/ie 

Italy 

www.ebay.it 

Korea 

www.auction.co.kr 

Malaysia* 

www.ebay.com.my 

Mexico 

www.mercadolibre.com.mx 

Netherlands 

www.ebay.nl 

New Zealand* 

www.ebay.com/nz 

Philippines* 

www.ebay.ph 

Singapore* 

www.ebay.com.sg 

Spain 

www.ebay.es 

Sweden* 

www.ebaysweden.com 

Switzerland 

www.ebay.ch 

Taiwan 

www.tw.ebay.com 

United Kingdom* 

www.ebay.co.uk 



42 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



Set Up Shop 

An Introduction To eBay Stores 




i m i 

i ■ P ■ 




In 1956, Edina, Minn, saw the com- 
pletion of Southdale Center. It's 
been called the first indoor shop- 
ping mall, providing a constant 72 -de- 
gree climate (a big selling point during 
Minnesota winters), competing de- 
partment stores, numerous specialty 
shops, a post office, tropical plants, es- 
calators, and even helicopter service to 
several other locations. The purpose 
was obvious: Put all a family's needs 
under one roof, make it a pleasant 
place to shop despite adverse weather, 
and they'll show up in droves. This 
idea lies behind the Internet mall, too, 
allowing people to shop for a variety of 
items in a single, convenient Web loca- 
tion. You see what you like, check out 
the prices, and make your purchases. 
Weather's not a problem here, either: 
As long as you have a reasonably fast 
Web connection, you can visit an In- 
ternet mall whether there's three feet 
of snow outside or you can fry eggs on 
the sidewalk. 

Although eBay isn't quite the his- 
torical online equivalent of Southdale, 
it's arguably the largest and most suc- 
cessful of Internet malls today. It's 
achieved this popularity by adapting 
to the medium. Obtaining and main- 
taining an eBay Store costs a mere 
fraction of what it costs to run a phys- 
ical store and considerably less than a 
traditional online store, and mer- 
chants largely pass the savings on to 
their customers. If you sell something 
at a reasonable price where people 



gather, someone will buy it. That's the 
theory, and eBay has proven it. 

What exactly is an eBay Store? eBay 
sellers who make the transition from 
sporadic clutter-clearing sales or 
selling hobby- related items to offering 
a steady flow of products as a sec- 
ondary (or primary) source of income 
can set up their very own page at the 
world's largest online marketplace for 
a reasonable monthly fee. These pages 
pull together all of a seller's auction 
and Buy It Now listings in one virtual 
location that can help foster repeat 
business and additional sales. 

To see what sort of stores are out 
there, shoppers can head to the eBay 
home page and click the eBay Stores 
link in the left margin under the 
Specialty Sites heading. The main Stores 
page offers a selection of Featured 
Stores and provides multiple ways for 
you to browse or search the overall se- 
lection of eBay Stores. You can run a 
keyword search for a particular item, or 
you can click through categories and 




Southdale Center in Edina, Minn.: The 
indoor mall that started it all. 



subcategories arranged similarly to 
those of eBay's main item category lists. 
You'll also run across stores during 
standard item searches; any auction or 
item listing with a red tag icon next to 
the seller's User ID indicates that the 
seller has an eBay 
Store stocked with 
more merchandise 
for you to peruse. 

In addition to 
the most obvious 
benefit of eBay's 
Stores pages for 
sellers — the mas- 
sive number of 
shoppers who come to eBay ready to 
shop — and the low costs involved with 
running one, sellers also appreciate how 
easy it is to set up and run an eBay Store. 
Most online malls simply charge you to 
provide a link to your Web site, which 
you must build and maintain. By con- 
trast, each eBay Store comes with a vir- 
tual storefront where visitors can see sale 
item descriptions and images and 
Promo Boxes to spotlight those items 
they really want to push. A seller also 
gets additional store pages, cross-pro- 
motional tools, traffic reports, a sales re- 
port, an accounting assistant, and more. 
eBay offers three Store tiers suited to the 
needs of different sellers: Basic (five 
pages; $15.95 per month), Featured (10 
pages; $49.95 per month), and Anchor 
(15 pages; $499.95 per month). A 
person with a modest number of items 
to sell might be satisfied with five store 
pages, while a large volume seller might 
prefer the Anchor type, with 15. The 
various store levels also come with 
varying levels of eBay exposure, in- 
cluding email marketing and free eBay 
Keywords that link potential buyers 
directly to relevant shops when they 
search eBay for specific merchandise. 

Unlike Southdale Center, there are 
no escalators or tropical plants at eBay. 
But the selection is huge, you don't 
need to bring the kids, and parking is 
never a problem. It's a convenient mall 
for sellers and buyers alike. Qjs] 

by Barry Brenesal 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 43 



All About eBAY 



Membership Has 
Its Privileges 



The eBay Registration Process 



■*-;:;•': 








Look but don't touch — that's the 
briefest possible summary of 
what you can do on eBay before 
you establish a User ID. 

Without a membership, you can go 
just about anywhere on the site. You 
can browse through merchandise cate- 
gories, inspect item listings, use the 
search tools to hunt for something spe- 
cific, wander into the eBay Community 
area and spend some time reading the 
Discussion Boards, and so on. 

But if you hope to do anything more 
than stand with your face pressed up 
against the virtual glass — even ask a 
seller a question — you'll need to be- 
come a registered user. 



.: 



J <^ 



Registration Benefits: 

zed shopping page 

■ Your favorite avi rch 

■ Most-wanted-itern notifications 

■ PayPal Buyer Protection 
Already Registered? Sign In 



For eBay newcomers, 
the registration 
process begins here. 



One Step At A Time 

After you've registered (we'll go 
through the process shortly), eBay re- 
ally starts to open up for you. First 
and foremost, you can bid on auctions 
and buy items available at fixed prices. 

You can also contact sellers with 
questions that may influence your de- 
cision to bid or buy. Need to know if 
that vial of certified Elvis sweat is glass 
or high-impact plastic? You're entirely 
within your rights and abilities. Click 
the Ask Seller A Question link in the 
item's Seller Information box, sign in if 
necessary, and you'll access eBay's in- 
terface for communicating with sellers. 

Ah, but can you turn around and 
auction off that vial of Elvis sweat for 
a potential profit after it arrives? Not 
so fast. Signing up for a membership 
doesn't automatically enable you to 
list items for sale. For this, you'll need 
a Seller's Account, which entails set- 
ting up a method for eBay to collect 
the charges you rack up in the course 
of doing business. 



When buying, you're dealing directly 
with the seller; you owe eBay nothing 
for this, ever. When selling, though, 
you're obligated to pay eBay a listing fee 
and a commission on the sale price. 

The Registration Process 

If you're not a registered user yet, 
eBay's home page will look entirely 
different for you than it does for mem- 
bers. That's because members have a 
cookie (a tiny bit of computer code 
that works with one's Web browser to 
prompt future recognition by the site) 
stored on their hard drives. 

For newcomers, the home page 
has a couple of registration links. The 
most obvious one is the gray Register 
Now button in the orange-bordered 
box. Click it, and you're on your way. 

Step 1. Here you'll enter your per- 
sonal information: name, residential 
address, phone number, and a valid 
email address. Date of birth is also re- 
quired; you must be 18 or older. 

Toward the bottom you can scroll 
through the text of eBay's User Agree- 
ment and Privacy Policy, and you 
must click the acceptance checkbox in 
order to proceed. (For more about the 



eb 



Register: Enter Information 

1 Enter Information 2. Ch ' ' i 



: ; assword 3. Check Y 



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City 

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Primary telephone Secondary telephone (Opt 

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ne n My eBay. 



Continue; 



First, you'll enter some personal information. 



44 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



The eBay Privacy Policy 



During registration, you must ac- 
cept eBay's User Agreement and 
Privacy Policy before the site grants 
you a User ID. (For more about the 
User Agreement, see "What Have I 
Just Signed Up For?" on page 47.) A 
portion of this Agreement involves 
your understanding that eBay will 
collect certain types of information 
from you and will use and may dis- 
close your information in accordance 
with the site's Privacy Policy. 

What Is Your Information? 

eBay defines your information as: 
"Any information you provide to us 
or to other users in the registration, 
bidding, or listing process, in any 
public message area (including the 
Cafe or the feedback area) or through 
any email feature." 

In general, this is whatever is re- 
quired to conduct transactions or to 
verify that you are who you claim to 
be, such as your name, billing and 
shipping addresses, and email ad- 
dress, plus various financial informa- 
tion (credit card number and bank 
account numbers). eBay will also cat- 
alog such data as your computer's 
operating system and the browser 
you use. Your transaction history is 
on record, along with feedback 
other users have left about you, 
messages you may have posted in 
the Community forums, and corre- 
spondence conducted directly with 
eBay employees. 

In addition, eBay will track aspects 
of your use of the site, such as the 
pages you view, as well as the last site 
you visited before accessing eBay and 
the next site you visit upon leaving. 
(These aren't tied to you personally.) 

How Your Information Is Used 

As a rule, the information you pro- 
vide is for internal use by eBay and its 
subsidiaries to provide the services 



you want. eBay may also use informa- 
tion to resolve disputes, troubleshoot 
service problems, detect violations of 
the User Agreement, and so on. 

And to the extent that your User 
ID is a part of your identity, the 
way that you conduct yourself as a 
trading partner is open to public 
view through the Feedback Forum. 

But if you're apprehensive about 
opening a floodgate of spam or other 
companies rifling through your 
records, don't be. You'll find this state- 
ment more than once in eBay's Privacy 
documents: "We do not sell or rent 
any of your personal information to 
third parties for their marketing pur- 
poses without your explicit consent." 

Internal marketing is another 
matter, but not a big one. Informa- 
tion and site usage may be used to 
generate banner ads, product offers, 
and so on, but you shouldn't find 
these obtrusive. 

Disclosure of your information, at 
least in such a way as to identify you 
personally (you may be part of a sta- 
tistical group, for instance), doesn't 
happen without your consent. 

Take Control 

No system is perfect, but if you're 
getting marketing solicitations that 
you don't want, you should be able 
to put a stop to that by changing 
your site preferences. Visit your My 
eBay page and click eBay Preferences 
on the left side under My Account. 
Next, click the View/Change link to 
the right of Notification Preferences. 
The marketing options are near the 
bottom of the page. 

Also, eBay can't guarantee that 
you won't be spammed by a member 
you've conducted a transaction with 
in the past. If this becomes a prob- 
lem, you can report it, starting with 
a visit to this page: pages.ebay 
.com/help/policies/rfe-spam- 
general.html. I 



Privacy Policy and User Agreement, 
see, respectively, the accompanying 
sidebar "The eBay Privacy Policy" and 
the article "What Have I Just Signed 
Up For?" on page 47.) 

Step 2. In this step, you'll select your 
User ID and Password. If you're having 
an uncreative day, you can choose from 
the three ID options that the site whips 
up for you — probably your first name 
and some numbers. If you want some- 
thing a little more memorable, go for 
the fourth option and create your own. 
Even then, you may have to churn 
through several attempts, as eBay has 
more than 100 million users globally, 
and someone could easily have your 
first choice. Your password must con- 
tain at least six characters, and you'll get 
instant feedback on how secure the 
system considers your entry to be. 



etr 



Register: Choose User ID & Password 



nation 2 Choose User ID & Passworc 



'.:: ::' ::-■ : ■-/ : 



Create password 



How secure is your password? 



might be. If yc 
.< secure. 



Re-enter password 



Secret question Sec ret answer 

s mascot? Mangy the Goat 



Next, you'll configure your User ID and Password. 

Finally, at the bottom, use the drop- 
down menu to choose from a handful 
of security questions and furnish the 
answer. If you ever forget your pass- 
word, this gives you a backup method 
of retrieving it. 

Step 3. After you click the Continue 
button in Step 2, eBay will send an 
email to the address you supplied in 
Step 1. There may be an intermediate 
step, however. If you're with a subscrip- 
tion-based Internet service provider 
such as AOL or Earthlink, eBay con- 
siders that validation enough, because 
you will have already passed verification 
procedures there. However, if you use 
a free email provider such as Yahoo!, 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 45 



All About eBAY 



Creating Your eBay User ID 



Deciding what username you want 
to adopt can turn into the most 
time-consuming step of any online 
registration procedure. Does anybody 
ever get the first choice they submit? 
If you haven't yet signed up as an eBay 
member, you might save some time 
by jotting a short list of potential 
names . . . subject, of course, to eBay's 
guidelines for what User IDs can and 
cannot include. 

The list of requirements for what 
your name should consist of is quite 
short. It needs to be at least two char- 
acters in length and may contain let- 
ters, numbers, or some combination, 
with certain symbols allowed. A hy- 
phen (-) or a single underscore (_) are 
the suggested alternatives if you want 
to imply a space between words in 
your ID. 

Things you can't use include 
spaces, presses of the TAB key, hy- 
phens or underscores as the first 
character in your ID, consecutive un- 
derscores, or most symbols found 
atop your keyboard's number keys 
and elsewhere, including but not 
necessarily limited to: !, @, #, $, %, &, 
<, and >. 

Content matters, as well. Although 
it was originally permissible to use 
your email address as your User ID, 
eBay rescinded this several months 
ago. It's a sensible policy, though, 
thwarting those relatively few users 
who would exploit these addresses 
for abusive contact and spammers 
trolling for additions to mailing lists. 



eb 



Register: Check Your Email 



To complete registration: 



ir ID & Password 3 Check Your Email 

:, ericofthegods@earthlink.net ( 

ration" email sent to ericofthegodsS'earthlink 



c 



Please check your ei 



As soon as you've finished inputting your 
information, eBay will send you an email 
for completing your registration. 



Neither should you imply your 
email address through an obvious 
tweak, such as swapping an under- 
score for the @ symbol. You can, 
however, use an element of your ad- 
dress if it's not obvious where to find 
it . . . for instance, "sweetpea41 1" in- 
stead of "sweetpea41 1_yahoo.com." 

You can't use a Web site address, ei- 
ther. Therefore, such suffixes as ".com", 
".net", and ".org" are forbidden, as well 
as tricks to covertly convey them. But 
as with email addresses, you can ex- 
tract the element that's part of your 
identity or business. So "stinkyfish- 
heads" is fine, whereas "stinkyfish- 
heads.com" won't pass inspection. 

Further content-related guidelines: 

• The name can't be obscene, pro- 
fane, or libelous. 

• You can't use someone else's User 
ID or the name of an eBay Store. 

• You can't use a third-party brand 
name or trademark, or any varia- 
tion close enough to be confusing. 

• The word "eBay" is off-limits, re- 
served solely for employee use. 

• You can't use just the letter "e" 
followed by numbers. 

And if, after avoiding all of these 
prohibitions, you still manage to elicit 
the "User ID Invalid" response during 
your registration, congratulations — 
you've found a new one. Still, that 
leaves most languages and vocabu- 
laries on Earth, as well as the fertile 
realm of utter nonsense. You should 
be able to come up with something. I 

you'll need to furnish your credit card 
number. You won't be charged for any- 
thing; this is just to verify your identity. 
Step 4. Check your email for a 
message that eBay just sent. It should 
contain a button that you can click, 
which will relay a confirmation code 
back to eBay and complete your regis- 
tration. If the button doesn't work, 
the email also has an option for com- 
pleting the process manually. 



That's it. You're now an eBay mem- 
ber in good standing. Try not to go 
broke the first week. 

Become A Seller 

Nowhere in the registration proce- 
dure is there an option for setting 
up a Seller's Account, as this is a sep- 
arate procedure. The quickest way is 
to click the Sell link at the top of 
most any eBay page, click the Sell 
Your Item button on the next page, 
and sign in. The site will recognize 
that you're not yet a Seller and ini- 
tiate the three-step process for up- 
grading your membership. 

First, furnish the number, expira- 
tion date, and ID number for your 
credit or debit card. Next, fill in the 
account number for your checking 
account and your bank's routing 
number (most checks print this along 
the bottom edge). Finally, choose 
whether you want seller's fees charged 
to your card or deducted from your 
checking account. 

Multiple Personality Conditions 

eBay permits users to set up mul- 
tiple user accounts and IDs, with one 
stipulation: Each account must be 
linked to a different email address; 
you can't have two or more user IDs 
linked to the same address. 

This is mainly of benefit to higher- 
volume sellers. A seller may offer 
specialized items in very different 
categories and prefer a user ID that 
reflects what he's selling in each one. 
Some sellers have separate buying 
IDs; for example, an antiques seller 
with expertise on what is valuable 
(and possibly underpriced) on eBay 
may want to buy items with a separate 
ID to prevent others from tracking 
what she's bidding on. 

For most of us, however, one iden- 
tity is enough . . . sometimes more 
than enough. __ 

by Brian Hodge 



46 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



What Have I Just 
Signed Up For? 

Understanding The eBay User Agreement 



****»*££&* 




User agreements are the ultimate 
leaps of faith. Everybody con- 
sents to them, yet nobody reads 
them. Little wonder; packed with lan- 
guage that only a lawyer could love, 
they're not exactly Stephen King novels 
. . . even if they feel almost as long. 

With 20 clauses and almost as many 
subclauses, eBay's User Agreement 
(UA, from now on) doesn't break the 
mold. So what does a happy-go-lucky 
click of the acceptance checkbox 
during the registration process commit 
you to besides one kidney to be surren- 
dered on demand? Read on. 

Know Your Roles 



words, a big tent under which 
you can set up your own 
card table. And what eBay 
isn't: an agent that handles 
merchandise directly or ex- 
erts control over transactions 
and the people engaging in them. 

It's important to understand this 
distinction. By accepting the UA, you 
are issuing eBay and its directors and 
employees a waiver of responsibility if a 
transaction goes sour. (If you're out 
$600 for that "Star Wars" memorabilia 
that never arrived, your beef is ulti- 
mately with the seller.) You're also ac- 
knowledging that using the site entails 
a degree of risk. You may run across 
shady characters, underage users, and 
others acting under false pretenses; de- 
ceptive or incorrect seller information; 
the hazards of international trade; and 
other perils. No, eBay assumes no lia- 
bility there, either, so user beware. 

Your Responsibilities 

The eBay UA is also a promise to 
conduct yourself according to a pretty 
basic code of ethics: Pay your debts, do 
what you say you will, and don't cheat, 
lie, or steal. 



A substantial portion of the 
UA — which covers not only eBay 
but also such affiliates as eBay 
Stores and Half.com — defines 
exactly what eBay is and isn't. 

Briefly, then, what eBay is: a 
venue where users can "offer, sell, 
and buy just about anything, at 
anytime, from anywhere, in a va- 
riety of pricing formats." In other 



eBay User Agreement and Privacy Policy ( ) 



User Agrei 



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Click this checkbox, and the world is your trading partner. 



Site users. You're obligated to pay 
eBay whatever charges you rack up. For 
most users, that simply means the fees 
accrued while listing an item and the 
commission on the final price the item 
sells for. If all you do is buy, you'll never 
owe eBay a dime. You're also agreeing 
to refrain from such no-nos as ripping 
off site content for your own use. 

Buyers. By bidding on an item, 
you're agreeing to abide by the seller's 
terms as stated in the item description 
(assuming they're in compliance with 
the UA) and to complete the transac- 
tion should you win the auction. There 
are a limited number of circumstances 
in which you're allowed to retract a 
bid. See Clause 4 if that's an issue. 

Sellers. If you offer an item for sale, 
you must be legally able to sell it. 
Anything that infringes on others' 
copyrights, trademarks, and patents is 
strictly forbidden. Your item descrip- 
tion should be accurate and your terms 
clear, and if your minimum price is 
met or exceeded, you're obligated to 
complete the sale. And no, you can't 
manipulate your own auction to drive 
up the price ... or anyone else's, either. 

Information Collection 

The last major component of the UA 
is your granting eBay permission to col- 
lect certain types of data from you . . . 
mostly pertaining to identity, contact 
information, relevant credit card and/or 
banking information for transaction 
purposes, demographic data, and site 
usage. This is primarily for internal use. 
For more information, see "Mem- 
bership Has Its Privileges," on page 44. 

Happy Trading 

Although eBay's UA seems to 
saddle the user with obligations, 
there's really nothing to fear here. 
If you practice safe, common- 
sense trading, you should be fine. 

Oh, and we were joking about 
the kidney. Qjs] 

by Brian Hodge 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 47 



All About eBAY 



A Place To Call 
Your Own 

Rearrange Your My eBay Page Any Way 
You Want 




i - 



You'd think online stores would 
be noted for convenience, cor- 
rect? You don't have to dress for 
the weather or drive to get there, or 
wait in line at checkout behind 
someone with 49 items, 19 of 
which have no price tags. But 
online shopping can become 
unpleasant very easily if the 
process is lengthy and imper- 
sonal, tough to figure out, or 
difficult to track. To avoid this, 
eBay serves up My eBay, a series 
of page views that summarize 
and track all your eBay activi- 
ties. It can make conducting 
business on eBay fairly easy, it's 
easy to customize, and you can 
get there from just about any- 
where in eBay (just click My 
eBay in the banner at the top of 
most pages). Let's explore the 



ways you can tailor My eBay to fit your 
needs as closely as possible. 

My Summary 

The My eBay Views menu on the left 
side of the main My eBay page has a 
three-tier structure. At the top is My 
Summary. Underneath it are All Buy- 
ing, All Selling, All Favorites, and My 
Account. Each of these Views in turn 
acts as a summary for some or all of the 
Views listed immediately below it. This 
approach lets you get as much or as 
little drill-down detail as you want. You 
can further customize each of these 
screens in great detail. Let's start at the 
top, with My Summary. 

This is the center of My eBay, the 
place where all information pertinent to 
your activities is gathered and con- 
densed from a possible 19 Views. These 
Views give details about your recent 



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My Summary is the hub of My eBay. The My eBay toolbar to 
left lets you navigate your account's Views. 



buying, selling, bidding, messages, fa- 
vorites (searches, sellers, categories), and 
account. For example, the My Messages 
View displays any messages you've re- 
ceived from other users or eBay staffers, 
as well as General eBay Announcements 
regarding scheduled maintenance times, 
online discussions, and changes to cate- 
gories. The Bidding View displays the 
amount you've bid on auction items 
over the last month, with expected costs, 
and the number of auctions you've ac- 
tually won, along with the costs accrued. 
eBay focuses heavily on customiza- 
tion, as noted above, so it's no sur- 
prise that the My Summary View is 
customizable, too. If you click the 
Customize Summary link to the right 
of My Summary heading, you'll be able 
to choose which Views display their re- 
sults on your summary screen and the 
number of items to show for each sum- 
marized View listing. You can further 
customize My Summary by moving in- 
dividual Views up or down on this 
screen. (Highlight the item you want 
to move and click the appropriate 
double-arrow button to the right.) 
This helps prioritize the information 
you receive — so if you frequently use 
your saved Favorite Searches to find 
new items in a particular category, you 
can easily move it to the top of My 
Summary. Click Save and you'll return 
to your My Summary page. 

All Buying 

Buying is what most of us go 
to eBay for, so the various View 
summaries displayed on All 
Buying can yield a lot of useful 
information. Click All Buying 
on the left side of your My eBay 
page, and you'll see the sum- 
maries of seven Views: Buying 
Reminders, Items I'm Watch- 
ing, Buying Totals, Items I'm 
Bidding On, Items I Made Best 
Offers On, Items I've Won, and 
Items I Didn't Win. You can 
customize nearly all of these by 
clicking the Customize link to 
the right of the heading. 



the 



48 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



All About eBAY 



Each of these customization 
screens deals with the presenta- 
tion and organization of infor- 
mation: Just how much do you 
want on that subject, and how 
do you want to see it? For in- 
stance, when you go to the 
Customize Items I'm Watching 
screen, you can select from up 
to nine columns to include in 
that View, including such sub- 
jects as Item ID, Start Price, 
Start Time, Quantity, High 
Bidder ID, Current Price, Ship- 
ping Cost, Bids, and Seller ID. 
There are also checkboxes you 

can select to determine whether 

the item title has its own row 
and whether the Items I'm Watching 
View can display pictures, your notes, 
and eBay notes, and how many items 
are shown per page. As with most eBay 
Views, you can also change the order of 
the items, prioritizing some at the top 
of the screen or grouping relevant 
columns together for easy analysis 
(such as Start Price and Current Price). 

While altering these Views, don't 
miss one useful option on the All 
Buying View itself. Both Items I've 
Won and Items I Didn't Win have 
drop- down menus to the right of their 
headings that let you set the time pe- 
riod displayed, from the last 24 hours 
to the last 60 days, with a ninth option 
that's user-defined (to a maximum of 
60 days). As with the My Summary 
View, you can move any of the View 
summaries up and down the page. 

All Selling 

This View will only interest sellers — 
but who's to say we all won't fit into 
that group someday? The temptation 
to reap an honest dollar off all those 
things in the attic and basement may 
prove too great, and if that's the case, 
eBay gives you the tools to make it as 
simple as it can be. 

For sellers who want easy-to-read 
summaries of these activities, the All 
Selling View is the way to go. Not un- 
like All Buying, there are six Views 



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The Add Or Modify Your Favorite Categories screen lets you build or 
change nested categories for instant viewing at your convenience. 



summarized here: Selling Reminders, 
Scheduled Items, Selling Totals, Items 
I'm Selling, Items I've Sold, and Unsold 
Items. All but Selling Totals can be cus- 
tomized in a manner identical to that 
discussed in All Buying above. 

All Favorites 

One of the most useful Views in My 
eBay is the group known as All 
Favorites. It's a combination of three 
tracking tools that all buyers will want 
to use to great advantage: My Favorite 
Categories, My Favorite Sellers, and 
My Favorite Searches. (Categories 
aren't the same as searches. Categories 
are specific item types, such as books, 
cell phones, or coins. Searches are 
words and concepts that frequently 
cross categories, such as "Aztec") 

My Favorite Categories is particu- 
larly useful to have on hand. eBay orga- 
nizes its categories and subcategories 
by elaborate nesting, and who wants to 
drill down through four to six screens 
every time you go looking for a cate- 
gory? Using the Add Or Modify Your 
Favorite Categories screen, you can 
narrow your searches by starting with 
the most generalized themes. For ex- 
ample, Business & Industrial leads to 
Healthcare, Lab & Life Science, then 
Medical Equipment, and finally, Home 
Care. At that point, eBay displays the 
category number (it's 31463 for Home 



Care). When you click Submit 
and return to the All Favorites 
View, Home Care will now be 
visible under My Favorite Cat- 
egories, along with four links: 
Current, Starting Today, End- 
ing Today, and Ending Within 
5 Hours. "Current" refers to all 
Home Care items for sale and 
bid, while the other selections 
refer to auction items only. 

Adding to My Favorite Sellers 
is pretty obvious: You just type 
in a store name or seller User ID 
and click to continue. But eBay 
searches can be pretty sophis- 
ticated. Clicking the Add A 
Search link at your My Favorite 
Searches page brings up the advanced 
search page, which offers a wealth of 
options. It lets you search any or all 
keywords or exact phrases, in complete 
item listings or just titles and descrip- 
tions — and you can further narrow 
your search down by restricting it to 
specific categories. You can exclude 
words, set minimum and maximum 
item prices for your search, include 
only certain sellers, and even limit 
the results to items within a certain 
number of miles from a ZIP code or 
popular city. So if you want to see only 
Ancient Roman items in the Coins cate- 
gory priced between $200 and $300 
and sold within 100 miles of St. Louis, 
Mo., (for fast delivery or easy pickup), 
My Favorite Searches can do. Once you 
run a search at this page, the Add To 
Favorites link will appear. Clicking it 
brings you to a screen where you can se- 
lect a checkbox to receive notifications 
by email whenever a new item appears 
matching your search within a given 
length of time (from seven days to a 
year). Click again to Save Search, and 
your search will appear under All 
Favorites from now on. 

(Note that if you want to alter the 
conditions of a saved search, you won't 
click Edit Preferences to the right of 
the search information. That only lets 
you change the search name, whether 
you're emailed when new items appear 
matching your search, and for how 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 49 



All About eBAY 



long. Instead, click the small 
Down arrow alongside Edit 
Preferences and select Refine 
Search. It's a rare instance in 
eBay of useful information be- 
ing difficult to locate.) 

Even the page establishing 
search conditions is configur- 
able on eBay. If you click Cus- 
tomize Search Options from 
the Add A Search page, you can 
add or remove such searchable 
fields as Items Listed In US $, 
Items Listed As Lots, and Time 
Range Filter. 

My Account 



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Manage Subscriptions 



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Manage Subscriptions lets you acquire useful tools for selling. 



The All Buying, All Selling, 
and All Favorites Views each 
gather information from re- 
lated screens for you to see in a 
central location; All Favorites 
customizes favorite searches, 
sellers, and categories, for ex- 
ample. But most of the seven 
subsidiary Views under My 
Account (Personal Informa- 
tion, Addresses, Manage Sub- 
scriptions, eBay Preferences, 
Feedback, Seller Account, and 
PayPal Account) break with 
this tradition, presenting a lot 
of information that isn't sum- 
marized under My Account. 
Most have unique customiza- 
tion options, as well, so we'll 
take a look at them one by one. 

The My Account View provides a 
basic summary of your financial trans- 
actions: account activity, seller fees, 
PayPal account information, etc. The 
only customization you get here is that 
of moving various subjects up and 
down the page through the arrows on 
the right side of the screen. The Person- 
al Information View, however, lets you 
store and alter your user ID, password, 
password hint, email address, wireless 
email address (if any), checking account 
and credit card data, and About Me 
page. (About Me is just a brief bio about 
you, assuming you want to write one.) 
It also provides a link to another My 




You can customize most of the buying and selling Views to contain 
as much useful information about merchandise as you want. 



Account subsidiary View, Addresses, 
where you can view and change your 
registration and shipping addresses. 

Manage Subscriptions lets you sub- 
scribe and unsubscribe to a variety of 
eBay tools, mainly of use to sellers. 
Currently these include eBay Stores, 
eBay Selling Manager, eBay Seller's 
Assistant, Sales Reports, and eBay 
Picture Manager. You can click Learn 
More next to any of these items to get 
considerably more detailed information 
about the item and then click to the far 
right of each tool to subscribe. You'd do 
well to find out more of what each has 
to offer before subscribing because 



some (such as basic Sales Re- 
ports) are free, others (such as 
Sales Reports Plus) have a mon- 
thly cost, and still others come 
in a variety of plans with dif- 
ferent benefits and costs. 

The eBay Preferences View 
lets you decide what email no- 
tifications you want to receive. 
Click Notification Preferences, 
and you'll see a screen that lets 
you choose, among other op- 
tions, whether eBay informs 
you daily of the status of any 
item you're selling or bidding 
on, whether to send you notice 
of feedback, and whether you 
receive end- of- auction notices 
when you've won or lost. You 
can also select your default 
opening page from eBay Pref- 
erences, whether to display 
Help content, keep you signed 
in on your current computer 
though offline, and so on. 

Sellers will find more cus- 
tomization features on eBay 
Preferences, including ship- 
ping and payment preferences. 
(Do you tell buyers you prefer 
PayPal? Do you show buyers 
monthly payments possible 
with PayPal Buyer Credit?) 
You can also add a payment 
address for checks and money 
orders if desired and let buyers 
edit their totals during the pay- 
ment process to account for 

any additional costs or discounts you 

might provide. 



Put It All Together 

If you know where to click, you can 
customize My eBay and make it a lot 
easier to get all the facts you want 
about your account. Just remember 
that if at any time you're at a loss for 
what to do next, eBay has a compre- 
hensive online help system that's thor- 
ough and well-organized. The rest is 
up to you. H 

by Barry Brenesal 



50 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



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Buying 



Buying Rules & 
Etiquette 

Do's & Don'ts For The eBay Buyer 




Making the leap from 
well-informed super- 
store shopper to eBay 
bargain hunter doesn't 
have to involve a Busi- 
ness and Economics degree from 
Harvard. Just follow these general 
rules and you'll be bartering for 
Beanie Babies in no time. 

The Buying Game 

The colorful childlike eBay logo be- 
lies a diverse community of buyers and 
merchants that are, in almost all cases, 
very serious about the art of the auc- 
tion. Those new to eBay would do well 
to keep in mind that only the store- 
front is virtual. The people and money 
behind it are very real. The eBay mer- 
chant has certain obligations: to dis- 
play the product, to accurately describe 
it, and to deliver said product to you 
upon receipt of payment. But as a 
buyer, eBay has rules for you, as well. 

Know The Item 

Shopping on eBay isn't the tactile 
affair that grocery shopping is, but the 



fact that you can't thump a Web picture 
of a melon doesn't mean you should 
shy away from buying online. Make 
sure you read the item's description 
very carefully. If something doesn't look 
right, ask the seller about it. If the item 
description includes subjective phrases, 
such as "minor dings and scratches," 
don't hesitate to send the seller a re- 
quest for some elaboration. The seller 
will often even send you additional pic- 
tures of the area in question. 

Before bidding on an item, make 
sure the item you're interested in is 



I ' ho -re pay services sitemap 



legal. (For most products this probably 
won't be an issue.) eBay forbids the sale 
of some items, and other items may be 
legal to sell in one country but not an- 
other (see the article "Not Quite 
Everything Under The Sun" on page 95. 
eBay's Web site lists prohibited items 
(check the list at pages.ebay.com 
/help/sell/item_allowed.html) and en- 
courages users to report such listings. 

It's a good idea to know how much 
an item is worth before placing a bid 
on it. Check other online resources, 
outside of eBay, such as retailers and 
wholesalers. If the item is used, how 
much did it cost new? Has the item's 
value appreciated or depreciated? 
Also check eBay's completed listings 
to see what similar items sold for. You 
can search complete listings by 
clicking the checkbox in front of 
Completed Listings in the Search 
Options on any item search page. 

Know The Seller 

Once you know what you want to 
buy, it's time to choose a seller. To en- 
sure a safe and enjoyable bidding expe- 
rience on eBay, you have to do some 
more research. Take the time to read 
the feedback for every seller you're in- 
terested in buying from, and note any 
negative feedback. If you get stuck with 
a bum dealer, you can't say you weren't 
warned. For more information on 
giving and receiving feedback, check 
out the "Buyer Etiquette" sidebar in 
this article. 



Advanced Search 



Buying Resources 

Education and Help 

. Learning CenlE, 
.Buyer Guide 

Community Answer Center 

♦ Registration 

* Saaich 
» ;::::,! i:g 

. C-ISCkOLl 

. PayPal 

» intp-rgh.;nai Trading 

» See all Answer Center boards 



Services and Programs 

• Buyer Tsci-i 

• eBay Toolbar 

• An^here 'Av^ess 

• eBay Anything Points 

■ Pay) - for Buyer 

• Girt Certificates 

Protection 

■ Buyer Protection 

■ Security Center 

. Warranty Program 

Buying Activities 

. Manage your actives 

• Rptraclygurbid 



Search Browse Categories Brows e Stores eBay Toolbar Anything Points Gffi Certificates Trie eBay Shop 
About eBay AnnouneannantB Security Canter Policies Site Map Help 



e6a« official time 



eBay's Buying Resources page can be helpful for new users. 



No Joke 

When you bid on 
an item, you are en- 
tering into a contract 
with the seller, and 
many states consider 
that contract binding. 
So be sure you're 
ready to buy before 
you place a bid. When 
entering a maximum 
amount for proxy 
bidding (see "Carpe 



52 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Buyer Etiquette 



^ Bay has different means for con- 
w tacting the seller, whether you're 
the auction winner, a current bidder, 
or merely interested in bidding. During 
the auction, you can click the Ask 
Seller A Question link on the right side 
of the item description page. Type 
your question, choose whether or not 
to send a copy of the email to yourself, 
and click Submit Question. You can 
also search for members by User ID 
and click the Contact Member button 
from the Member Profile page. Just 
type your question in the text box, de- 
termine whether you want to keep 
your email address confidential or not, 
and then click Send Message. 

Once you've won the auction, eBay 
will notify you of your winning bid on 
your My eBay page. Scroll to the Items 
I've Won category on your My eBay 
page and click the hyperlinked item de- 
scription to access payment instruc- 
tions based on your preferred method. 
You'll also get an EOA (End of Auction) 
email to inform you of your win. eBay 
recommends contacting the seller 
within three business days, but often it 
only takes a matter of minutes or hours. 

If you've sent an email, waited 
three days, but still haven't heard 
from the seller, let a couple more days 
pass before sending another email. 
Give the seller the benefit of the 
doubt and simply remind him that 
you have completed payment and are 
awaiting confirmation and delivery. 

If another week passes with no reply, 
go to the Find Contact Information 



page, enter the seller's User ID and the 
item number, and then submit the re- 
quest. eBay will send you an email with 
the seller's address and phone number. 
eBay also sends your contact informa- 
tion to the seller, so don't call at 3 a.m. 
and hang up because the seller is being 
too slow. Also, if you choose to call, 
take care to note the seller's local time 
zone and call during reasonable hours. 
Sometimes unforeseen circumstances 
can prevent the seller from corre- 
sponding or sending the item, so again, 
be civil. Arrange a deadline for getting 
the item shipped to you and obtain al- 
ternate contact information if neces- 
sary. If three weeks have passed and 
your seller is still MIA, click the Security 
Center link at the bottom of any eBay 
page and report that you have paid for 
but not received the item. eBay's staff 
will then determine whether or not 
your issue is a legal matter, in which 
case eBay will investigate further. If 
your issue is deemed a customer ser- 
vice issue, an eBay representative will 
be in touch. No matter the case, you'll 
have to wait awhile for a response. 
Sometimes the best you can hope for is 
that the seller is suspended. This is one 
case when negative feedback can alert 
your fellow eBayer to the potential 
rotten egg seller. 

Feedback 

eBay's feedback system is a lot like 
street cred among young urbanites. 
A lot of positive feedback means that 



you have earned props from sellers 
and/or buyers for your prompt 
transactions and honest dealings. A 
couple pieces of negative feedback, 
however, can instantly de-ghetto-ify 
your hard-earned respect faster than 
putting a Hello Kitty! sticker on the 
bumper of your lowrider. A poor 
feedback rating can make buyers 
wary of your wares and sellers extra 
protective of their products. 

One law governs the proper use of 
eBay's feedback system: Honesty. 
Sometimes giving complete strangers 
the benefit of the doubt is difficult to 
do, but keep in mind that feedback is 
a two-way street. If you find a seller 
with a thousand good feedback com- 
ments and a single negative comment 
(likely from a user no longer regis- 
tered), then you can be reasonably as- 
sured that the seller is trustworthy. 

Also, don't expect feedback for 
every transaction you complete. 
Nagging a seller for feedback may 
blow up in your face. On the other 
hand, good feedback is a buyer's only 
indication of the seller's integrity, so 
provide the seller with a positive feed- 
back comment if the sale went 
smoothly. Remember, sometimes 
sellers will wait to post feedback on a 
buyer until the buyer has posted feed- 
back on them. Only leave negative 
feedback if you're willing to incur a 
negative comment on your own pro- 
file. For more information on eBay's 
feedback system, refer to "Focus On 
Feedback" on Page 1 22. I 



Auction" on Page 65), other 
sellers and buyers can't see 
how much you're willing to 
spend, so bidding a billion 
dollars for Andre Agassi's old 
tennis shoes will probably en- 
sure that you win the auction. 
Then again, if the bidding gets 
intense, you may find your life 
savings spent on another guy's 
sweaty footwear. 

If you know your item, the 



eb 



srsn 



Member Profile: 



Members who left a positive: 
Members v*o left a negative. 



(18151 *) - 



Recent Rating*: 










Pest 
Month 


Past 
6 Month* 


Peat 

12Mon4h* 


O positive 


1020 


6442 


11598 


® neural 


S 


62 


11S 


O negative 


2 


32 


46 



Bid Retractions (Past 6 months): 




Page 1 of W 

Dale I Time Item # 

(144*) Dec-31.04 09:16 243757117069 

(Z! Dec-31.04 06;33 243_I55J74755 

3*1-3 1-04 07:42 4509223569 



Feedback is the key to trusting complete strangers. 



seller looks reputable, and you 
absolutely must have an item 
up for auction, consider the 
Buy It Now option, if it's 
available. Some auctions in- 
clude the Buy It Now option 
as a way of ending the auction 
early. Usually the Buy It Now 
price is set above the item's 
value, but if you're bidding on 
an item that you absolutely 
must have, the Buy It Now 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 53 



option will guarantee that you get it 
for the price listed. 

OK, so you understand the basics of 
buying on eBay, but your 12 -year- old 
is suddenly spending a lot of time on- 
line. The next thing you know, you get 
an email from eBay congratulating 
you on your new factory- sealed, first- 
generation Optimus Prime Trans- 
former, and for a paltry $275. eBay 
states its policy regarding children in 
the User Agreement and Privacy 
Policy. Children (those under the age 
of 18) are not eligible to use eBay un- 
supervised. If they do, and they win 
bids, you're responsible for the cost. 
In short, you had better clear a space 
on your mantle for the big rig from 
planet Cybertron. Refer to the Bid 
Retraction sidebar for the rare cases 
when you can retract a bid. 

Reach Out 

When you win an auction, the onus 
is on you and the seller to contact each 
other. Because the seller wants to get 
paid, and you want your new or 
slightly- used item, the transaction is 
usually quick and painless. Make sure 
your email, shipping address, and 
phone number are up-to-date. Also 
make sure that your payment and 
billing information is current to avoid 
delays that can reflect poorly on you. 
For more information about how to go 
about contacting a seller, refer to the 



Bid Retraction 




The Security & Resolution Center comes to the rescue in 
the event of a problem with an auction. 



^ Bay generally doesn't accept bid 
C retractions. That being said, there 
are rare instances when the buyer's 
bid can be cancelled while the auc- 
tion is still open. Bid retractions can 
occur anytime before the final 12 
hours of the auction. If you retract a 
bid within one hour of placing it, only 
your retracted bid disappears. All of 
your previous bids remain. Sellers 
must agree to bid retractions made in 
the final 12 hours of an auction. 
Keep in mind that your total 
number of bid retractions from the 
last six months appears in your User 
Profile. eBay doesn't take kindly to 
frequent bid retractions, so use them 
sparingly. Bid shielding is the practice 
of bidding low and using another 
profile or eBay member to bid above 
the item's value in an attempt to dis- 
courage other bidders. At the last 
second, bid shielders retract their bid 
and allow the low bid to win the 
item. It's a dirty trick, and eBay will 
kick you out for it. 

Buyer Etiquette sidebar. 

Sometimes it takes a few days to get a 
reply from the seller, especially from 
sellers that deal with multiple sales each 
day. Unless you have specific questions 
regarding payment or shipping details, 
arrange to make payment as soon as 
you can. eBay lets seven days pass be- 
fore a seller can file a Non- 
Paying Bidder form, which 
lets the seller get a listing fee 
refund. In the event of 
mailed payments, such as 
checks and money orders, 
sellers will usually allow an 
additional three days. If as a 
buyer you accrue three Non- 
Paying Bidder complaints, 
eBay will give you the boot. 
No questions asked. 

Finally, when you decide 
to place a bid on eBay, make 
sure you have access to a 
computer and a reliable 
Internet connection for the 



There are three valid reasons for 
retracting a bid, as follows. 

Whoops. If you make an obvious 
typographical error when entering 
the bid amount. For instance, if you 
type $75.90 instead of $7.59, eBay will 
let you immediately enter the correct 
bid following the retraction. If you fail 
to enter another bid, the retraction is 
in violation of eBay's policy and may 
get you kicked out. 

What's This? You can retract your 
bid if the description of the item you're 
bidding on changes significantly. If the 
description of a signed Brett Favre 
jersey suddenly changes to reveal that 
the seller's roommate's cousin looks 
like Brett Favre, so he signed it, you 
have grounds for a bid retraction. 

Hello? Finally, you can retract a bid 
during the auction if the seller is 
AWOL If you tried to email the seller, 
but the message came back undeliver- 
able, or you called the seller, but it was 
the wrong number or the line wasn't 
active, you can back out of your bid. I 

duration of the auction and subse- 
quent transaction. If, for example, you 
bid on a new hard drive for your only 
computer, it's counterproductive to 
disassemble your system before you've 
won and received the new drive. 

Going, Going, Sold! 

eBay's Discussion Boards support a 
community of experienced buyers and 
sellers committed to helping new users 
learn the ropes. Click the Community 
link at the top of the eBay home page. 
Next click Discussion Boards in the 
Talk category and then click the link 
for the New To eBay board. Take your 
time and browse the questions posed 
by other users and then ask a few ques- 
tions yourself. You'll likely have a re- 
sponse within a matter of minutes. 
Remember the saying, "buyer beware." 
Happy bidding. Qjs] 

by Andrew Leibman 



54 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Treasure Hunt 



Find What You're After 




We've all heard the phrase 
"one person's junk is an- 
other person's treasure." 
Unfortunately, it turns out that most 
often other people's junk is, well, 
junk — and there's a lot of it to sort 
through on eBay. Take chewing gum 
for instance. How many people are 
really interested in chewing gum- re- 
lated items? When last we checked, 
there were 233 chewing gum- related 
items up for auction. 

There are two approaches you can 
take when sorting through the deluge 
of items for sale on eBay. If you don't 
have a very specific idea of what you're 
looking for, eBay's categories are a fun 
and easy way to window shop. If, how- 
ever, you know exactly what you're 
looking for, eBay's search feature is 
probably the fastest way to find it. 

Window Shop 

Sometimes you might just be in the 
mood to see what eBay has to offer. 
You can use the list on the left-hand 



side of the front page, if you're in the 
mood to do a little browsing. Clicking 
the See All eBay Categories menu item 
at the bottom takes you to a new page, 
displaying several (but not all) subcate- 
gories under each main category. Click 
a main category to see a complete list of 
subcategories for that main category. 

Some subcategories have their 
own subcategories. For instance, in 
the Camera & Photo category, there's 
a subcategory for Digital Cameras. 
This subcategory is further divided 
into Point & Shoot, Digital SLR, 
Specialty Digital Cameras, Parts & 
Repair, and Other Digital Cameras. 
Picking a subcategory eliminates un- 
related items from the item list. For a 
more complete layout of eBay cate- 
gories and subcategories, see 
"Wading Through It All" starting on 
page 58. 

Search For Items: Learning The Ropes 

If you're looking for something 
specific, browsing through categories 



is probably too broad of an approach. 
Why wade through all 65 or so items 
in the Movie Memorabilia subcate- 
gory when all you really want is that 
8- x 10-inch Raquel Welch glossy. 
(Like any "Seinfeld" fan, we dig the 
way she doesn't move her arms when 
she dances.) Using eBay's search fea- 
ture is often the best plan for finding 
specific items. 

You'll find a basic search field for 
conducting quick keyword searches 
on eBay's home page. By default, 
these searches are limited to words in 
the item title only. This is often the 
fastest way to begin a search, but be- 
cause you don't have access to some 
of the more advanced options, you 
may have to hone your search to 
eliminate too many unwanted results. 

Start by using the most descriptive 
keywords possible. If you're looking 
for computer memory, for instance, 
avoid generic terms such as "RAM." 
Try "DDR400" or "PC3200" instead. 
Other helpful keywords include brand 
names, model numbers, sizes, and 
colors. A search for "kodak dx6490" 
will yield more relevant results than 
"kodak digital camera." (Note that 
eBay's search engine isn't case sensi- 
tive.) Likewise, "black aluminum 
briefcase" is a better search string 
than simply "briefcase." 

Using specific keywords is a good 
way to limit returns to relevant items, 
but if you get too specific, you may 
accidentally miss an item. Remember 
that sellers aren't perfect and may not 
list an item by its proper or official 
name. Intelligent search features re- 
turn common misspellings for an 
item (for instance, the search strings 
"spider-man" and "spiderman" re- 
turn identical results), but it's always 
best to avoid some search terms. 
Using "and," "or," and "the," for in- 
stance, limits returns to items con- 
taining those words in the title. 
Omitting such words from the begin- 
ning of a search string is usually a 
wise idea. A search for "the dukes of 
hazzard" for instance, returned 241 
items last time we checked. Omitting 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 55 



Help & Community 



Where do you turn when you need eBay help? The Help 
link displayed in the top portion of each page is the 
perfect place to start. Here you can find help on using eBay 
whether you're a seller, a buyer, or just a window shopper. 
Everything from eBay policies to feedback help is available. 

If you can't find the answer to your question in the Help 
section, you might want to try asking other eBay members. 
Click the Community link at the top of any eBay page. The 
Community page offers several options divided into Talk, 
News, Events, and People. The Talk section provides access to 
Discussion Boards, Chat, and an Answer Center. Discussion 
boards are divided into Community Help Boards that include 
Bidding and Policies/User Agreement boards. A list of cate- 
gory-specific discussion boards for readers, comics collectors, 
and photographers are also available. (You'll also see links to 
these boards from within related item categories.) 

The Chat section delves into various general-purpose and 
category-specific chat rooms. Unlike discussion boards, where 
you leave a message and come back the next day to see if any- 
one left a response, chat rooms provide real-time communica- 
tions with other users. Finally, the Answer Center is place to 
ask questions and provide answers to other eBay members. 

The News section contains various announcements, in- 
cluding information about scheduled system maintenance. 
You'll also find a link to eBay's newsletter, The Chatter. In the 



Events section, you'll find a list of scheduled eBay events such 
as workshops and other online eBay-sponsored events. You'll 
also find information for both buyers and sellers on eBay's 
Giving Works charity program. This program lets sellers and 
nonprofits who contribute proceeds to charity sell their wares 
through eBay. I 



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members. This Photography board offers advice on buying and 
using cameras and accessories. 



"the" significantly expanded the 
number of results to 876 items. On 
the other hand, there are times when 
you may want to leave such words in- 
tact. For instance, "return of the jedi" 
returned 782 results. Omitting "the" 
added nearly 50 additional items, but 
in this case, we're not sure those 50 
added results are meaningful, as it 
seems unlikely a seller would omit 
"the" in "Return Of The Jedi." 

If you get too descriptive and re- 
ceive too few results, try eliminating 
the least important keyword and try 
again. A narrowed, focused search is 
nice, but you want to make sure you 
don't miss the perfect deal because 
your search was too narrow. 

Master & Commander 

The basic searching guidelines above 
are enough to get started, but power 
users have a number of additional 



options. Like any good search engine, 
you can use a number of commands to 
alter the results returned by eBay's 
search engine. You can use these com- 
mands at any time, but they're a par- 
ticularly helpful way to narrow your 
search when working with eBay's basic 
search option. 

Commands consist primarily of 
three punctuation marks: quota- 
tion marks, parentheses, and minus 
signs. How and when you use these 
punctuation marks dictate how 
they're interpreted. 

Surrounding an entire search string 
with quotation marks, for instance, 
causes the search engine to return re- 
sults that match the search string ex- 
actly. You can use quotes multiple 
times in the same search. For in- 
stance, if you're looking for books in 
the "Master And Commander" series 
by Patrick O'Brian, you might enter a 
search string such as "master and 



commander" "patrick o'brian." You 

can also put quotation marks around 
a single keyword to disable eBay's in- 
telligent search feature. 

Placing multiple words in paren- 
theses lets you search for one word 
or the other in the titles of eBay list- 
ings. You should separate words in- 
side parentheses using a comma and 
no space. For instance, typing the 
string "master and commander" 
(patrick,crowe) will return results for 
both the books and the movie. 

Finally, the minus sign preceding a 
word will omit any results containing 
that word. If there are multiple key- 
words you want omitted, place the 
group in parentheses after the mi- 
nus sign. Separate each term with a 
comma and no space. For instance, if 
you're looking for "Master And 
Commander" on DVD and/or movie 
memorabilia, but not books, you 
might try entering the search string 



56 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



"master and commander" 
-("patrick o'brian",book). 

Don't be afraid to combine 
commands when searching. 

Zero In 

Sometimes, no matter how 
good your search is, you'll get 
items you have no interest in. 
In many instances, you can 
zero in on specific items using 
the links and search options 
on the left side of the page. 
The Matching Categories box 
lists any categories with items 
that match your search string. 
For instance, when we did 
a search for "Master And 
Commander," we received 255 
results that included books, 
movies, memorabilia, toys, and even 
music. For the sake of illustration, 
let's say we were looking for the 
movie soundtrack. Clicking the 
Music category link narrowed our 
options to just nine choices. If we 
wanted to, we could've further nar- 
rowed our choices by only looking at 
items described as New (five) or 
items described as Used (three). 

Search Options, listed below 
Matching Categories on the left of the 
page, lets you further restrict your 
search. Options here let you zero in 
on listings that accept PayPal, Buy It 
Now listings, completed listings, gift 
items, lots (multiple items sold to- 
gether), multiple item listings (mul- 
tiple items sold separately), items 
from a specific seller, items listed 
in US dollars, and items accepting 
Anything Points (promotional points 
earned from select partners that you 
can spend on eBay through your 
PayPal account). You can also add a 
number of filters that let you view 
listings ending within a certain time- 
frame, items priced within a certain 
price range, and items with a certain 
of number of bids. If you want to add 
an option that's not visible, click the 
Customize link at the bottom of the 
Search Options section. Check the 



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Omitting "and," "ox," and "the" from the beginning of a 
search phrase is a great way to expand the number of 
relevant results. Intelligent search technologies provide 
common misspellings. (You'll find items with the phrase 
Hazzard and Hazard in this search.) 



appropriate option, provide any addi- 
tional information (such as a price), 
and click the Show Items button. 

Advanced Search 

Even if you use the commands 
above, you may find yourself having 
to fine-tune your initial search results 
by specifying a category or using 
one or more Search Options. If you 
would rather avoid fine-tuning your 
search results, you can always click 
the Advanced Search link below the 
search field in the upper- right corner 
of each page. 

Just to confuse the issue, you'll find 
one of two search pages when you 
click the Advanced Search link: ei- 
ther the Basic Search page or the Ad- 
vanced Search page. In most cases, 
you'll see the Advanced Search page 
that provides more robust searching 
options. Some of the options here du- 
plicate the search commands covered 
above. Other options include the 
ability to sort by price and a nifty 
ability to sort by country. This option 
lets you view items from a particular 
country or view items offered for sale 
in a particular country. These features 
and others listed on the Advanced 
Search page are also available in the 



Search Options included with 
item listings. 

If you don't need all these 
options, click the Basic Search 
link at the bottom of the page. 
Here you'll find a keyword 
field and a drop -down menu 
that lets you select one of the 
32 main categories. (After you 
start a search, you can select 
subcategories in the Matching 
Categories box to the left of 
the item listings to further 
focus your search.) You can 
also opt to sort your results 
according to time, price, dis- 
tance (from the buyer), pay- 
ment, or country. Finally, you 
can select the format you wish 
to use when viewing results 
and the maximum number of 
results to display per page. Click the 
Advanced Search link if you want 
additional options. 

Save A Search 

Have a particular item you find 
yourself searching for a lot on eBay? 
Once you have a sufficiently nar- 
rowed search, you can save the search 
by clicking the Add To Favorites link 
and typing a name for the search. 
(You need to be a registered eBay user 
and logged in.) You can also choose 
to receive email alerts when a new 
auction matches your search criteria. 
You decide how long the alert should 
last by specifying anything from seven 
days to 12 months. 

You can add a new favorite search 
or refine an existing search at any 
time. Favorite Searches are listed in a 
drop-down menu whenever you 
click the Advanced Search link. You 
can also find your favorite searches 
in My eBay. (Click the Searches link 
on the left-hand side.) From My 
eBay, you can also manage saved 
searches. Click the checkbox next to 
a search you want to delete and click 
the Delete button. Qjs] 

by Chad Denton 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 57 



Wading Through 

It All 

Using eBay's Categories To Your Advantage 







Maybe it was the time your 
youngster unleashed a tidal 
wave of Kool-Aid over your 
computer's mouse, or perhaps it was 
one of the instances your dog con- 
fused it for its favorite chew toy. 
Whatever the cause, your mouse is 
now dead. As you plan its eulogy and 









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Although this list of categories and subcategories looks 
intimidating, proper use of them can cut down on the 
time you spend searching for the right auction. 



proper means of disposal, you also 
need to brainstorm a way to replace it. 
In the past you've gotten a good 
deal or two on eBay, so you decide to 
scan it for mice. After a while of des- 
perately trying to remember which 
key combination gets you online, you 
finally maneuver your way through 
the Web to eBay's home 
page. You type "mouse" in 
the search box and await your 
result ... 36,154 items found! 
Everything from a Disney 
doll to snake food has in- 
vaded your monitor, and as 
you feel your temples start 
to throb, you contemplate 
throwing on a pot of coffee 
because this has the makings 
of a long night. 

Don't use that coffee filter 
just yet. eBay's category cata- 
combs offer easy paths to 
help narrow your search. For 
instance, while you want a 



productive search, you don't need 
to see any pictures of four-legged 
creepy crawlies or stuffed Mickeys 
or Minnies. On eBay's home page, 
you can choose the "Computers 8c 
Networking" category. From there 
you can go to "Input Devices," then 
"Mice, Mouse," then select the con- 
nectivity you're looking for. Before 
you know it you're down to about 
1,500 products before you even enter 
a word in the search box. 

For optimum efficiency when navi- 
gating eBay, you'll definitely want to 
familiarize yourself with these cate- 
gories. Here's a list of 32 sections that 
eBay offers and a breakdown of some 
of its most popular subcategories: 

Antiques 

Architectural 8c Garden 

Asian Antiques 

Classical, American Antiquities 

Decorative Arts 

Furniture 

Maps, Atlases 8c Globes 

Primitives 

Rugs 8c Carpets 

Silver 

Textiles 8c Linens 
Art 

Digital Art 

Drawings 

Folk Art 

Mixed Media 

Paintings 

Photographic Images 

Posters 

Prints 

Sculpture, Carvings 

Self- Representing Artists 
Books 8c Magazines 

Accessories 

Antiquarian 8c Collectible 

Audiobooks 

Catalogs 

Children's Books 

Fiction Books 

Magazine Back Issues 

Magazine Subscriptions 

Nonfiction Books 

Textbooks 

Wholesale 

Other 



58 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Business 8c Industrial 






Disneyana 






• DVD-RW/+RW Drives 


Agriculture 8c Forestry 






Historical Memorabilia 






8c Burners 


Construction 






Housewares 8c Kitchenware 






• DVD ROM Drives 


Food Service 8c Retail 






Postcards 8c Paper 






• Hard Drives — External, Zip 8c Jaz 


Healthcare, Lab 8c Life Science 






Transportation 






• Hard Drives — Internal 


Industrial Electrical 8c Test 






Computers 8c Networking 






• Flash Memory Drives 


Industrial Supply 






Apple, Macintosh Computers 






• Floppy Drives 


Manufacturing 8c Metalworking 






• Apple Components 






• Tape Drives 


Office, Printing 8c Shipping 






• Apple Desktops 






• Other Drives 8c Controllers 


Other 






• Apple Drives 8c Media 






• Wholesale Lots 


Cameras 8c Photo 






• Apple Input Devices 






Input Devices 


Camcorder Accessories 






• Apple Laptops 8c Notebooks 






• Barcode Scanners 


Camcorders 






• Apple Monitors/Displays 






• Card Readers 


Digital Camera Accessories 






• Apple Networking 






• Gamepads 8c Joypads 


Digital Cameras 






• Apple Parts 8c Accessories 






• Infrared 8c IrDA 


Film Camera Accessories 






• Printers, Scanners 8c Ink 






• Joysticks 


Film Cameras 






• Vintage Apple/Macintosh 






• Keyboards 


Lenses 8c Accessories 






• Other Apple Products 






• Mice/Mouse 


Lighting 8c Studio Equipment 






• Wholesale Lots 






• Microphones 


Professional Video Equipment 






Desktop PC Components 






• PC Remote Controls 


Vintage 






• Cables 8c Adapter Cards 






• Tablets 


Cell Phones 






• CPUs for Desktop PC 






• Trackballs 


Accessories 8c Parts 






• Fans, Heatsinks 8c Cooling 






• Other 


Phones 






• Memory for Desktop PC 






• Wholesale Lots 


Phones with New Plan Purchase 






• Modems for Desktop PC 






Laptop Parts 8c Accessories 


Prepaid Phones 8c Cards 






• Motherboards for Desktop PC 






• Adapters 8c Chargers for Laptops 


Wholesale 8c Large Lots 






• PC Cases 8c Towers for 






• Batteries for Laptops 


Clothing, Shoes 8c Accessories 






Desktop PC 






• Cables 8c Connectors for Laptops 


Boys 






• Power Supplies for Desktop PC 






• Cases 8c Bags for Laptops 


Girls 






• Sound Cards for Desktop PC 






• CPUs for Laptops 


Infants 8c Toddlers 






• Speakers 8c Headphones 






• Docking Stations for Laptops 


Men's Accessories 






• TV Tuner/Video Capture Devices 






• Drives for Laptops 


Men's Clothing 






• Uninterruptible Power Supply 






• Keyboards for Laptops 


Vintage 






• Video 8c Multimedia Accessories 






• Memory Upgrades for Laptops 


Wedding Apparel 






• Video Cards for Desktop PC 






• Mice/Mouse for Laptops 


Women's Accessories 8c Handbags 






• Video Conferencing 






• Motherboards for Laptops 


Women's Clothing 






• Webcams 






• PCMCIA Cards for Laptops 


Women's Shoes 






• Other 






• Repair 8c Service Manuals 


Coins 






• Wholesale Lots 






• Screens 8c LCD Panels 


Bullion 






Desktop PCs 






for Laptops 


Coins: Ancient 






•366MHz 8c Less 






• Security for Laptops 


Coins: US 






• 400 to 650MHz 






• Video 8c Sound for Laptops 


Coins: World 






•700MHz to 1GHz 






• Other Parts 8c Accessories 


Exonumia 






• 1.1 to 2.0GHz, 1400+ to 2000+ 






• Wholesale Lots 


Paper Money: US 






• 2.1 to 2.6GHz, 2100 + to 2600+ 






Laptops 


Paper Money: World 






• 2.7 GHz, 2700+ to 2800+ 






•Acer 


Publications 8c Supplies 






•3.0GHz, 3000+ 8c Higher 






• Alienware 


Scripophily 






• Desktops with monitors 






•AST 


Collectibles 






•Mini PC 8c Shuttle PC 






•Dell 


Advertising 






• Wholesale lots 






• Fujitsu 


Animals 






Drives, Controllers 8c Storage 






• Gateway 


Comics 






• Blank Media 






• HP 8c Compaq 


Cultures, Ethnicities 






• CD Drives 8c Duplicators 






•IBM 


Decorative Collectibles 






• Controllers — Adapter 8c I/O Card 






•NEC 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 59 



• Panasonic 






• Cables 8c Extenders 






• Wholesale Lots 


• Sharp 






• Cleaning 8c Repair Kits 






Vintage Computing Products 


• Sony 






• Drum Cartridges 8c Fusers 






• Apple, Macintosh 


• Toshiba 






• Feeders 8c Trays 






• Amiga 


• Other Laptops 






• Ink Cartridges — Black 






• Atari 


• Custom Systems 8c White Book 






• Ink Cartridges — Color 






• Commodore 


• Table PCs 






• Laser Toner — Black 






•IBM 


• Wholesale Lots 






• Laser Toner — Color 






• TRS 80 


Monitors 8c Projectors 






• Memory Upgrades 






• Vintage PCs 


• CRT 8c Standard 






• Printing Paper 






• Other 


• LCD 8c Flat Panel 






• Printheads 






• Other Hardware 8c Software 


• Monitor 






• Power Supplies 






• Domain Names 


• Accessories 






• Ribbons 






• Services 


• Projectors 






• Sign Vinyl 

• Other Wholesale Lots 






• Other Hardware 


• Other 


Consumer Electronics 


• Wholesale Lots 






Scanners 






Car Electronics 


Networking 






• Canon 






DVD Players 8c Recorders 


• Cables 8c Connectors 






• Epson 






Gadgets 


• Home Networking, Cable 8c DSL 






• Fujitsu 






Home Audio 


• Filers 8c Load Balancers 






•HP 






MP3, Portable Audio 


•Hubs 






• Microtek 






PDAs/Handheld PCs 


• KVM Switch Boxes 8c Cables 






• Mustek 






Radios 


• Mainframe, DEC, VAX 8c AS/400 






•UMAX 






Satellite 8c Cable TV 


• Networking 8c Telecom Tools 






• Visioneer 






Telephones 8c Pagers 


• Network Interface Cards 






• Other 






Televisions 


• Print Servers, Wired Racks, 






• Wholesale Lots 






Crafts 


Mounts 8c Patch Panels 






Software 




Bead Art 


• Router Components 8c Memory 






• Antivirus 8c Security Utilities 




Crocheting 


• Wired Routers 






• Apple/Macintosh Software 






Cross Stitch 


• Server Components 8c Memory 






• Busing 8c Productivity 




Embroidery 


• Servers 






• Database 8c Development Tools 




Fabric 


• Security, Firewall 8c VPN 






• Digital Music 8c Video Software 




Quilting 


• Software, Operating Systems 






• Downloadable Software 






Scrapbooking 


• Storage Equipment, NAS 8c SAN 






• Education 8c Reference 






Sewing 


• Switch Components, Memory 






• Games 8c Entertainment 






Stamping 


• Switches 






• Graphics, Photo 8c Publishing 




Yarn 


• Telephone Systems, Telecom 






• Handheld Software 




Dolls 8c Bears 


• UPS, Power Protection 8c APC 






• Internet Related Utilities 






Bear Making Supplies 


• Workstation Components, 






• Kids' Software 






Bears 


Memory 






• Networking 






Dolls 


• Workstations 8c Terminals 






• Operating Systems 






Dollhouse Miniatures 


• Wireless Networking 8c WiFi 






• Wholesale Lots 






Paper Dolls 


• Other Networking Equipment 






Technology Books 
• Certification 






Wholesale Lots 


• Wholesale Lots 


DVDs 8c Movies 


Printers 






• Graphics, Software 






DVD 


• All-in-One 8c Multifunction 






• Hardware 






Film 


• Ink Jet 8c Photo Printers 






• How-To 






Laserdisc 


• Laser Printers 






• Internet 






VHS 


• Mobile Printers 






• Networking, OS 






VHS Non-US (PAL) 


• POS 8c Dot Matrix Printers 






• Owner's Manuals 






Other Formats 


• Thermal Printers 






• Programming 






Wholesale Lots 


• Other Printers 






• Software 






eBay Motors 


• Wholesale Lots 






• Web Development 






Motorcycles 


Printer Supplies 8c Accessories 






• Other 




Parts 8c Accessories 



60 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Buying 



Passenger Vehicles 


Wholesale Lots 


Experiences 


Powersports 


Musical Instruments 


Other Items 


Other Vehicles 


Brass 


Toys 8c Hobbies 


Entertainment Memorabilia 


Electronic 


Action Figures 


Autographs 


Guitar 


Beanbag Plush 8c Beanie Babies 


Movie Memorabilia 


Harmonica 


Diecast, Toy Vehicles 


Music Memorabilia 


Keyboard 8c Piano 


Games 


Television Memorabilia 


Percussion 


Model Railroads, Trains 


Theater Memorabilia 


Pro Audio 


Models 8c Kits 


Video Game Memorabilia 


Sheet Music 8c Song Books 


Puzzles 


Other Memorabilia 


String 


Radio Control 


Gift Certificates 


Woodwind 


Trading Card Games 


Health 8c Beauty 


Pottery 8c Glass 


TV, Movie 8c Character Toys 


Bath 8c Body 


Glass 


Travel 


Dietary Supplements 8c Nutrition 
Fragrances 


Pottery 8c China 


Airline 
Cruises 


Real Estate 


Hair Care 


Commercial 


Lodging 


Makeup 


Land 


Luggage 


Manicure 8c Pedicure 


Residential 


Vacation Packages 


Medical, Special Needs 


Timeshares 


Other Travel 


Skin Care 


Other Real Estate 


Video Games 


Tattoos 8c Body Art 


Sporting Goods 


Accessories 


Weight Management 


Baseball 8c Softball 


Games 


Home 8c Garden 


Basketball 


Internet Games 


Bedding 


Billiards 


Systems 


Building 8c Hardware 


Camping, Hiking 8c Backpacking 


Vintage Games 


Dining 8c Bar 


Cycling 


Other 


Food 8c Wine 


Equestrian 


Wholesale Lots 


Furniture 


Fishing 


Everything Else 


Gardening 8c Plants 


Hunting 


eBay User Tools 


Home Decor 


Paintball 


Education 8c Learning 


Kitchen 


Soccer 


Funeral 8c Cemetery 


Pet Supplies 


Sports Cards 8c Memorabilia 


Genealogy 


Tools 


Authenticator Pre- Certified 


Gifts 8c Occasions 


Jewelry 8c Watches 


Autographs — Original 


Metaphysical 


Bracelets 


Autographs — Reprints 


Personal Security 


Charms 8c Charm Bracelets 


Cards 


Religious Products 8c Supplies 


Earrings 


Fan Apparel 8c Souvenirs 


Specialty Services 


Fashion Jewelry 


Game Used Memorabilia 


Weird Stuff 


Loose Beads 


Other Sports Memorabilia 




Loose Gemstones 


Wholesale Lots 


Sure, familiarizing yourself with all 


Necklaces 8c Pendants 


Stamps 


these categories sounds like a daunting 


Rings 


Asia 


task; after all, there are more than 500 


Watches 


Australia 


subcategories to choose from. But what 


Vintage, Antique 


Canada 


little time you spend searching for the 


Music 


Europe 


right category, you'll make up for in 


Accessories 


Great Britain 


your search efficiency. So the next time 


Cassettes 


Latin America 


junior sends a tsunami of tea on your 


CDs 


Middle East 


favorite piece of electronic equipment, 


Digital Downloads 


Publications 8c Supplies 


take a deep breath and relish the op- 


DVD Audio 


Topical 8c Specialty 


portunity to familiarize yourself with 


Other Formats 


United States 


these handy categories, [rs] 


Records 

Super Audio CDs 


Tickets 

Event Tickets 




by Sam Evans 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 61 



Learn To Speak 
eBay 

Abbreviations, Acronyms & Icons Are The Key 
To Smart Bidding 




Most of us remember our first 
experience using email. We 
remember how foreign btw 
(by the way), rorl (rolling on the floor 
laughing), and :) seemed. In no time, 
however, we added these to our 
vocabulary and incorporated them 
into our email messages. Similarly, the 
first few times you venture onto eBay, 
you'll notice that some listings look as 
though they're written in a foreign 
language. But after spending some 
time browsing eBay listings, you will 
pick up many of the acronyms com- 
monly used in your areas of interest. 

As is the case with almost any cul- 
tural phenomenon, eBay has devel- 
oped its own set of terms, vocabulary, 
abbreviations, acronyms, and sym- 
bols. Although initially a phrase such 
as "NW NRFB FSFH NR$1" might 
seem overwhelming, after you come 
across these terms a few times, you'll 
quickly decipher that phrase as "never 
worn, never removed from box, from 



smoke-free home, no reserve on this 
item and a $1 starting bid." 

Birth Of A Language 

Almost every hobby, academic pur- 
suit, or pop -culture phenomenon has 
its own unique terms and acronyms, 
jargon that only its devoted followers 
understand. For instance, those familiar 
with genealogy will understand terms 
such as SSDI (Social Security Death 
Index) and GEDCOM (GEnealogical 
Data COMmunications). Action-figure 
collectors should recognize terms such 
as MOTU (Masters of the Universe), 
AFA (Action Figure Authority rating), 
and MOC (mint condition, on card). 
Precious Moments collectors will rec- 
ognize the term J&D (Jonathan 8c 
David) and know what someone means 
when she refers to an hourglass symbol. 
If you think of your own hobbies, you 
can probably imagine a wealth of jargon 
that outsiders would not recognize. 



Because eBay sellers try to commu- 
nicate as much information as possi- 
ble in a small listing, you will find that 
eBay listings are full of acronyms and 
abbreviations. Many of the acronyms 
come from the item category itself 
and are familiar to collectors. For 
instance, a book collector may recog- 
nize the acronym HBDJ (hardback 
with dustjacket), even if she has never 
read an eBay listing. Each eBay cate- 
gory has its own jargon that reflects 
product details important to collec- 
tors. Of course, if you are not a book 
collector but are looking for a book 
for a family member, the acronyms 
and abbreviations can be confusing. 

Symbols Speak Volumes 

In addition to the acronyms and 
abbreviations in eBay listings, you will 
also see quite a few symbols. Whereas 
most acronyms and abbreviations are 
not the invention of eBay but rather 
its sellers, the symbols and icons 
you'll see are standardized and origi- 
nate from eBay. 

eBay icons communicate important 
information quickly. For instance, 
with a glance at the star next to a 
user's name, you can tell how many 
transactions for which that person has 
received feedback. You can also see 
quickly if a seller accepts PayPal pay- 
ments, if a photo of the product is 
included in the listing, and other 
important information. 

Speak eBay's Language 

To help you speak "eBay-ese" like 
an experienced pro, we'll look at 
several common acronyms, icons, 
and other tools eBay and sellers use 
to communicate auction informa- 
tion. We've also assembled a guide 
to eBay symbols and a chart with 
many of the most common abbrevi- 
ations, acronyms, and terms used in 
eBay listings. Qjs] 

by Kylee Dickey 



62 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Icons In 
Listings 



Icon 


Description 


^BuyltNow 


Buy It Now icon 


i 


calculator 


m 


camera 


A 


charity ribbon 


* 


gift box 


<* 


paddle 


w> 


PayPal logo 


£© 


PayPal logo with shield 


iHl 


picture frame 



a 



ribbon 



Meaning 

Seller includes a price at which you may purchase the item without going through the 
bidding process. 

Shipping rate dependent upon your location. Click the calculator icon, type your ZIP 
code, and click Calculate for an estimate. 

A photo of the product is included in the listing. 

Either all or a portion of the money from the listed item will go to charity. 

Would make a good gift. Seller may also (but not necessarily) offer gift options, such 
as gift wrap, express shipping, or shipping directly to the gift recipient. 

Listing is part of an eBay Live Auction. 

Seller accepts PayPal payments. 

Seller accepts PayPal payments and offers PayPal Buyer Protection. 

A picture of the item is included in the Gallery. A small photo will also appear to the 
left of search results. 

Vehicle has been inspected. 

Item listing was added within the past 24 hours. 



ikti 



User Info 
Icons 



one of several eBay User's Feedback Rating. A user gets a star after receiving the 10th piece of feed- 

stars next to a User ID back. Stars change color (or graduate to shooting stars) as the user accumulates 

more feedback. Positive feedback is worth one point, neutral feedback is worth noth- 
ing, and negative feedback costs the user a point. 



User has a Feedback Rating between 10 and 49. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 50 and 99. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 100 and 499. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 500 and 999. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 1 ,000 and 4,999. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 5,000 and 9,999. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 10,000 and 24,999. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 25,000 and 49,999. 
User has a Feedback Rating between 50,000 and 99,999. 
User has a Feedback Rating of at least 100,000. 



User has met the Bronze ($1 ,000), Silver ($3,000), Gold ($10,000), Platinum ($25,000), or 
Titanium ($150,000) level of average gross monthly sales for the past three months. User 
has also received more than 100 pieces of feedback, at least 98% of which were positive. 
User has averaged at least four listings per month for the past three months, has a current 
account, contacts bidders within three days, and abides by eBay Community Values. 

Member has belonged to eBay for less than 30 days. 

User has an eBay Store. Click the red-tag icon to visit the store. 

User has an eBay Store. Click the red-tag icon to visit the store. 



ik 


yellow star 


• 


blue star 


ik 


turquoise star 


ik 


purple star 


ik 


red star 


& 


green star 


* 


yellow shooting star 


ik 


turqoise shooting star 


ik 


purple shooting star 


ik 


red shooting star 


\^/Power 





Seller PowerSeller icon 

Q new member 

red tag 
ftfflff^ red tag 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 63 



Abbreviation/Meaning 
Acronym 



Abbreviation/Meaning 
Acronym 



Abbreviation/Meaning 
Acronym 



$1NR 


$1 starting bid with no reserve 


/ 


Used as in "153/700," meaning #153 in 
a limited production of 700. 


1ST, 
2ND, 
etc. 


In book listings, may refer to either 
edition or printing number: "1ST ED.," 
"1ST printing," or "1 ST/1 ST" (first edition 


and first printing) 


A/O 


All original, as in "Barbie w/ A/O clothing 


& ace" 


AB 


Aurora Borealis rhinestone 


ABT 


about, as in "MANUFACTURED ABT 1915" 


ACC 


accessories 


ADV 


adventure 


AF 


action figure 


AFA 


Action Figure Authority rating (AFA 85) 


AIR 


airmail stamps 


ARC 


Advance Reader's Copy 


ANT 


antique 


ANTH 


anthology 


AP 


artist proof (sample made by artist, one 
of a kind) 


AUTH 


authentic 


AUTO 


autographed 


B&W 


black and white 


BCE 


Book Club Edition 


BIM 


blown in mold (bottles pre-1910) 


BIN 


Buy It Now 


BJ 


ball-jointed doll 


BK 


bent-knee doll 


BKLT 


booklet 


BND 


book binding 


BNWT 


brand new with tags 


BOMC 


Book of the Month Club edition 


BU 


brilliant uncirculated coins 


BV 


book value 


CA 


circa 


CC 


Credit Card 


CDF 


Customs Declaration Form (stamps) 


CERT 


Certificate of Authenticity 


CF 


centerfold or CompactFlash card 


CFW 


cultured freshwater pearls 


CGC 


Comics Guaranty, LLC rating. For guide 


to CGC ratings, see 
www.cgccomics.com/grading. 


COA 


Certificate of Authenticity 


CT 


carats 


CTB 


coffee table book 


CTW 


carat total weight 


CU 


crisp, uncirculated bills 


CZ 


cubic zirconium 


DAG 


daguerrotype photograph 


DB 


divided-back postcard 


DBPC 


divided-back postcard 


DJ 


dustjacket 


DUP 


duplicate 


EAPG 


Early American Pattern Glass 


EX/MT 


excellent to mint condition 


EXC 


excellent condition (close to mint condition) 


EXC/MT 


excellent to mint condition 


F 


Fine (used but in good condition) 


FE 


First Edition 


FN 


Fine (used but in good condition) 


FORG 


forgery 



FPFH 


from a pet-free home (used mainly in 


clothing and furniture auctions) 


FS 


factory-sealed 


FSFH 


from a smoke-free home (used mainly in 


clothing and furniture auctions) 


G 


Good (used but in good condition) 


G1,G2, 


Generation 1 , Generation 2, 


G3, etc. 


Generation 3, etc. 


GD 


Good (used but in good condition) 


GEDCOM 


GEnealogical Data COMmunications file 


GEP 


gold-plated 


GF 


gold-filled 


GIA 


Gemological Institute of America 


GP 


gold-plated 


GR 


grams 


GSP 


gold sterling plate 


HB 


hardback book 


HB/DJ 


hardback with dustjacket 


HBDJ 


hardback with dustjacket 


HC 


hardcover book 


HC/DJ 


hardcover with dustjacket 


HCDJ 


hardcover with dustjacket 


HM 


handmade 


HMT 


Happy Meal Toy 


HOF 


Hall of Famer 


HTF 


Hard To Find 


IBC 


inside back cover 


IFC 


inside front cover 


ILL 


illustrated copy 


1MB 


in mint-condition box 


ITF 


impossible to find 


LE 


limited edition 


LSE 


loose (as in a "loose" product that lacks 
the original packaging) 


LTBX 


letterbox 


LTD 


limited 


MFTR 


manufacturer 


MIB 


mint in box 


MIMB 


mint in mint box (both product and box 
are in mint condition) 


MIP 


mint in package 


MIMP 


mint in mint package 


MIOP 


mint in opened package 


MNB 


mint condition but no box 


MOBC 


mint on bubbling card (plastic is bubbling 
away from figure on card) 


MOC 


mint on card 


MOMC 


mint on mint card 


MONMC 


mint on near-mint card 


MOP 


Mother of Pearl 


MISB 


mint in sealed box (same as NRFB) 


MT 


mint condition (perfect condition) 


MWBT 


mint with both tags 


MWMT 


mint with mint tags 


MWNT 


mint condition but with no tags 


N/M 


new/mint condition 


NBW 


never been worn 


NIB 


new in box 


NIMB 


new in mint box (both product and box 
are in mint condition) 


NITF 


nearly impossible to find 


NM 


new/mint condition 


NOS 


new old stock (older item, never sold) 



NR 


no reserve 


NR$1 


no reserve, $1 starting bid (same as NR) 


NRFB 


never removed from box 


NW 


never worn 


NWOT 


new without tags 


NWT 


new with tags 


OB 


original box 


OEM 


original equipment manufacturer 


OF 


original finish 


OOAK 


one of a kind 


OOP 


out of print 


OSS 


old store stock (older item, never sold) 


P 


Poor (used and showing signs of wear or 


damage) 


P/B 


paperback book 


PB 


paperback book 


PC 


piece or postcard 


PD 


picture disc 


PFH 


from a pet-free home (used mainly in 
clothing and furniture auctions) 


PLAT 


platinum 


PM 


postmark, postmarked, or Precious 
Moments 


PP 


PayPal 


P/S 


picture sleeve (vinyl records) 


PT 


platinum 


PWT 


pennyweights (measurement of the 
weight of gold) 


RO, RF, DVD Region (Region 0, Region 
R1, R2, etc. Free, Region 1 , Region 2, etc.) 


RC 


rookie collection (sports trading cards) 


RET 


retired 


RGP 


rolled gold plate 


Rl 


reissue 


RP 


real-photo postcard 


RPPC 


real-photo postcard 


RS 


rhinestones 


RT 


retail tags 


S&H 


shipping & handling 


S&P 


salt and pepper shakers 


S/H 


shipping & handling 


SC 


slightly creased 


SCR 


scratch 


SE 


Second Edition or Special Edition 


SF 


science fiction 


SFH 


from a smoke-free home (used mainly in 
clothing and furniture auctions) 


SS 


sterling silver 


SW 


saltwater pearls or Star Wars 


SZ 


size 


TOS 


Terms of Sale 


UB 


undivided-back postcard 


UDV 


undivided-back postcard 


VHTF 


Very Hard To Find 


VF 


Very Fine (nearly excellent condition) 


VG 


Very Good (nearly excellent condition) 


WC 


watercolor 


WG 


white gold 


WOB 


writing on back or writing on box 


woe 


writing on cover 


WOF 


writing on front 


WRT 


with retail tags 


WS 


widescreen 



64 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Carpe Auction 

The Ins & Outs Of Successful Bidding On eBay 




If you've ever been to a live auction 
before, you know that certain items 
can create intense bidding wars 
from competing bidders. Seasoned vet- 
erans employ a combination of panache 
and carefully crafted strategy to en- 
sure they emerge victorious. Let's not 
forget that smarmy antique dealer who 
swoops in with a last minute bid to 
snatch that vintage Elvis cookie jar away 
from other, good-natured bidders. 

While they may lack the in-person 
factor, eBay auctions can be just as 
intense as live auctions. You'll likely 
never see the faces of your competi- 
tion, but they can be every bit as fierce. 
Thanks to the length of most eBay 
auctions, even users who are a little 
green should have time to familiarize 
themselves with the bidding process 
before taking the plunge by placing a 
bid. Still, bidding on eBay isn't as 
simple as slipping your bid in after the 
auctioneer's first "going." Not only 
does the bidding process differ from 
traditional auctions, but there are 



plenty of snipers (someone who waits 
until there are literally seconds re- 
maining in an auction before outbid- 
ding the competition) who can ruin a 
week's worth of careful bidding. We'll 
help you make sense of proxy bidding 
and also explain how to use eBay's 
Buy It Now to circumvent the bidding 
process. We'll also show you how to 
beat snipers at their own game. 

Proxy Bidding 

In a live auction, you might have an 
idea of the highest amount of money 
you're willing to spend on a particular 
item. If you get locked into a bidding 
war with another bidder, each of you 
will bid incrementally higher until one 
of you reaches your limit. This is easy 
to do when all interested parties are 
present, but it's simply not as feasible 
on eBay's typically week-long auc- 
tions. Therefore, eBay uses a method 
called proxy bidding to ensure the 
auction process flows smoothly. 



Why Bid? Buy It Now 



Although you can frequently snare 
a fantastic deal by bidding on an 
item that doesn't seem to be very 
popular, many eBay auctions have an 
option that can eliminate the uncer- 
tainty of the bidding process. This op- 
tion, called Buy It Now, lets you cut 
out the guesswork and know unequiv- 
ocally that you're walking away the 
winner. The same rules for paying the 
seller still apply; think of Buy It Now as 
an "Instant Win" option. 

Using Buy It Now is an option en- 
tirely at the seller's discretion, so it's 
not available for all auctions. If an auc- 
tion has a Buy It Now option, it will be 
available until the first regular bid or, 
if there is a Reserve Price, until a bid 
meets the Reserve Price. To use Buy It 
Now, click the Buy It Now button in- 
stead of the Place Bid button. Enter 
your User ID and password and click 
Continue. Unlike the regular bidding 
process, there is no additional Review 
and Confirm page; once you click 
Continue, you've purchased the item. 
To use the Buy It Now Option, you 
need to meet one of the following cri- 
teria: have a feedback of or higher, 
have a credit or debit card on file, or 
complete eBay's ID Verify program. I 

^BuyltNow 



Like its name suggests, proxy bid- 
ding involves using a proxy — in this 
case eBay itself — to bid for you while 
you're not at your computer. For ex- 
ample, say you spy a TaylorMade v7 
quad TP driver that's a steal at $250. At 
this point there are two approaches you 
can take. You can either place a bid 
that is the smallest increment higher 
than the current highest bid, or you 
can enter the highest amount you're 
willing to spend. If you decide you can 
part with $400 for the club but not a 
penny more, eBay will automatically 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 65 



The Art Of The Snipe 



You've been in a fierce bidding war 
for a vintage Fender Stratocaster 
guitar, and you're positive you'll be the 
winning bidder for one of these leg- 
endary axes as you're the current high 
bidder with only a minute left on the 
auction. You head to the kitchen for a 
bottle of bubbly to celebrate, only to 
discover someone snuck in a higher 
bid just before the auction's close. 
Congratulations, you've been sniped. 

Sniping might seem unfair, but it's 
perfectly legal (at least right now). As it 
turns out, sniping can have its advan- 
tages. Let's say there is a rare import 
CD that started at $10. The CD has 
drawn one bidder, and the current bid 
is $1 1 with four days left. If you place a 
$25 maximum bid at this point, you 
give others four days to force your bid 
higher. But if you place the $25 max- 
imum bid in the final minutes of the 
auction, others have less time to re- 
spond, and you could save a good deal. 

If you're familiar with the bidding 
process, there are numerous resources 
to help you try your hand at sniping. 
You can purchase an automated 
sniping program, such as SnipeRight 
(www.sniperight.com), that monitors 



auctions you're interested in and 
places snipe bids according to your 
maximum bid. Most of the sniping 
software we found was in the $1 5 to 
$25 price range. 

You can also pay a professional to 
snipe for you. Online sniping services 
such as Auction Sniper (www.auction 
sniper.com) will do the sniping for you, 
letting you enjoy your day. The terms 
of service vary according to each com- 
pany, but most generally charge some 
sort of fee for their services. 

The simplest way to do your own 
sniping is to synchronize your PC's 
clock with eBay's clock. You can find 
eBay's official time at cgi1.ebay.com 
/aw-cgi/eBaylSAPI.dll?TimeShow. 
When you adjust Windows XP's clock 
to match this time, it won't be pre- 
cise, but you should be fine as long as 
WinXP's clock is set within a few sec- 
onds of eBay's. That way, you'll be 
sure to know precisely when eBay will 
close the auction. Be sure to allow 
some time if you're using a dial-up 
connection to connect to the 
Internet; it may take a few extra sec- 
onds for eBay's servers to receive the 
necessary data from your PC. I 



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Current High Bidder 

You are the current high bidder for the auction. You can see your 
current bid for the auction and your maximum (proxy) bid for the 
item. You're now ready to bid! Click the "Close" button to return to 
the eBay University Online Tutorial. 



Test Item -Please Bid!!! 

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item agam before it ends. eBay will send you an email if buying activities. 

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Although this screenshot is from eBay University's bidding 
practice exercise, you'll see a similar page if you ward off all 
challengers with the highest bid. 



place incrementally higher bids until 
your bid is the highest or until you 
reach your maximum bid. 

Because other bidders may also use 
proxy bidding, the highest bidder (with 
a User ID of "JaneDoel234," for ex- 
ample) may be someone with a higher 
preset maximum bid. While Jane- 
Doe 1234 is the current high bidder at 
$250, her maximum bid may be $500. 
When you enter your $400 maximum 
bid, eBay is already aware of Jane- 
Doe 1234's $500 maximum bid and will 
bid the next incrementally higher bid 
above $400. Once you place your max- 
imum bid, eBay will notify you that 
you are the high bidder or that another 
bidder has outbid you. The "bidding" 
between you and JaneDoel234 occurs 
behind the scenes, so to speak. 

Of course, what happens if Jane- 
Doe 1234's maximum bid is also $400? 
In this case, the early bird gets the 
worm. If JaneDoel234 has already en- 
tered her maximum bid, she'll still be 
the highest bidder. On the other hand, 
if you top JaneDoel234's $250 bid 
with your $400 bid and she tries to re- 
claim the lead with her own manual 
bid of $400, you'll come out on top. 

Let's say that the same TaylorMade 
r7 quad TP driver has a $300 Reserve 
Price, and you place your $400 max- 
imum bid when the driver is still at 
$250. Even if no else has a maximum 
bid higher than $250, your bid will au- 
tomatically jump to meet the Reserve 
Price. Considering auction winners 
who don't meet the Reserve Price can 
still have an opportunity to negotiate 
with the seller, you may want to think 
twice about starting with a high max- 
imum bid, especially on pricier items. 

Enter The Fray 

It's go time. You've signed up for 
an eBay account and have found the 
perfect item to bid on. You click the 
link to the auction, review its descrip- 
tion, and review the seller's terms. 
You may have even asked the seller a 
few questions that she may not have 
covered in the item's description, but 



66 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Words From The Wise 



Think of them as the Mr. Miyagis of the eBay. These eBayers have been around 
the block a few times and have bid on hundreds of auctions. A few seasoned 
pros took time to offer a little "Wax on, wax off" advice of their own. 

"A lot of people make mistakes here because they either don't remember to 
add in the shipping cost, or they don't bother to research the retail price," says 
Kevin Lambert. 

"I have seen plenty of auctions [where] the item sold for more than the MSRP 
(manufacturer's suggested retail price). This only shows that bidders don't always 
do research, get caught up in the 'fever' of the bid, or just don't care." 

Kate Finney seemed to agree with Lambert about avoiding a bidding war. "I 
usually bid once [and] bid my max, and that's the end of the story." 

Lambert also uses sniping tactics similar to those mentioned in "The Art Of 
The Snipe" sidebar. "[Sniping] is a bit more advanced. This method has the poten- 
tial to win the auction at the lowest possible price . . . because nobody would have 
had the time to up the bidding before the auction ends," Lambert says. I 



you know this is the item you want. 
You're ready to bid. 

If you start at the auction Web page 
for the item you're interested in, there 
are two places for you to place your 
bid. You can click the Place Bid button 
just below the current bid, or you can 
scroll down toward the bottom of the 
page. In the Ready To Bid? section, 
there should be an empty field for you 
to place your maximum bid. In paren- 
theses, eBay will instruct you how 
much you must bid in order to place a 
valid bid. We'll use the Place Bid 
button at the top of the page, but both 







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eBay has made bidding almost as easy as nodding to the 
auctioneer. Sign in, enter your bid amount, click Continue, 
review your bid, and click Confirm. 



processes are essentially the same and 
differ only by shuffling a few steps. 

Start by clicking the Place Bid but- 
ton. If you aren't already signed in, 
you will be prompted to sign in at 
the subsequent Web page. Enter 
your eBay User ID and password and 
click Secure Sign In. The next page 
will look nearly identical to the Ready 
To Bid? section. It's a good idea to 
double- check the current bid and the 
amount you need to place a valid bid; 
you're close to the point of no return. 
Place your bid in the empty field. 
eBay doesn't require you to use a "$" 
symbol, but you should 
always use a decimal 
point in your bid. After 
all, you don't want to 
place a maximum bid 
of $2,500 for a $25 
DVD. Click Continue 
to go to the Review and 
Confirm Bid page. 

The Review and 
Confirm Bid page is 
the point of no return. 
This is the last time 
you'll be able to review 
the item's title, your 
bid, shipping and han- 
dling costs, and the 
seller's approved pay- 
ment methods. Once 
you click the Confirm 



Bid button, you are entering into a 
legally binding contract and must pay 
the amount you bid if you win. 

After you click Confirm Bid, eBay 
will direct you to one of two Web 
pages, depending on whether or not 
you are the new high bidder. To re- 
turn to the JaneDoel234 example, if 
you enter a maximum bid of $260 
and JaneDoel234's maximum bid is 
$275, eBay will display a Web page 
notifying "You have been outbid by 
another bidder." If your bid beats 
JaneDoel234's highest bid, eBay will 
display a Web page that shows "You 
are the current high bidder" and send 
you a confirmation email. 

Just because you're the king of the 
hill, you can't rest on your laurels for 
long. You can be outbid at any time, 
so check up on the auction periodi- 
cally. If you must have the item you've 
bid on, be aware that the most furious 
bidding occurs as the auction nears its 
final minutes. If you feel that your 
maximum bid won't be outdone, you 
can let the auction run its course. On 
the other hand, if you want to literally 
sneak in a last second bid, refer to our 
"The Art Of The Snipe" sidebar. 

You should obviously check on the 
auction once it concludes to know if 
you need to contact the seller and 
arrange payment if you're the win- 
ning bidder. See "How To Pay For 
Items On eBay" on page 72 for tips on 
making the transaction go as 
smoothly as possible. 

As The Gavel Falls 

Bidding on an item can be just as 
exhilarating as finding the item itself. 
Because actually bidding on an item 
involves a potential financial com- 
mitment, make sure you don't have 
any questions about the process be- 
fore placing an actual bid. It may take 
a little practice, but before long you'll 
be able to go toe-to-toe with the on- 
line counterparts of those smarmy 
antique dealers. Qjs] 

BY VlNCE COGLEY 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 67 



The Right Tool 
For Tracking 

Keep Track Of Auctions With The eBay Toolbar 



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Advanced Searrh 




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• 



f you're like us, you see a 
lot of eBay auctions that 
you wouldn't care to bid 
on, yet you'd like to see what their final 
prices will be. You want to keep an eye 
on such listings, just as you would with 
auctions of items you're selling or 
trying to buy. eBay helpfully provides 
more than one way to track an auc- 
tion. Each has its advantages. 

You may already know that when 
you view an auction, you can click 
the Watch This Item link at the upper 
right. This adds the listing to your 
My eBay area so that you can check 
the auction's price as it progresses. 
For more information on My eBay, 
turn to "A Place To Call Your Own" 
on page 48. 

In this article, we'll look at some of 
the alternative ways that you can 
watch an auction, including using 
eBay's Toolbar, an add-on for Internet 
Explorer 5.01, 5.5, or 6.0. But first 
we'll discuss some avenues that don't 
require you to install any software. 

Quick Links 

Bookmarking pages and creating 
shortcuts are quick ways to mark 




auctions that in- 
terest you. You can 
add auction pages to 
your browser's Book- 
marks or Favorites list, 
or put an icon on your Desktop that 
will take you directly to an item's 
listing. These methods don't require 
you to log into eBay, so they can be 
more convenient than My eBay or 
the Toolbar. 

On the other hand, bookmarks and 
shortcuts don't automatically remind 
you when it's time for an auction to 
close. Unless you remember to click 
them at the right time, you will miss 
out on the last minutes of the auctions 
you're watching. And as anyone who 
has ever been outbid at the last mo- 
ment can tell you, that's when most 
hotly contested items are won or lost. 

In addition, Bookmarks and short- 
cuts can add up in a hurry. Don't 



forget to delete old ones when their 
auctions expire. And don't rely on 
these methods if you want to track 
more than a few auctions a week. 

Bookmark an auction. To book- 
mark the page for an auction in IE6, 
click Favorites and Add To Favorites. 
Type a new name you'll recognize later, 
such as "eBay Tombstone DVD expires 
May 26." To store the Favorite some- 
place other than the main Favorites list, 
click Create In. If you want to make a 
new folder for your auctions, click New 
Folder and type in a name for it. 
Highlight the folder you want to put 
the Favorite into, and then click OK. 

To mark an auction page in Mozilla 
1.7.5, click Bookmarks and Bookmark 
This Page. To rename the entry, click 
Bookmarks and Manage Bookmarks. 
Scroll down to the bookmark, right- 
click it, and choose Rename. Type a 
new name for the auction page in the 
Name field, and then click OK. 

If you would rather put the auction 
in a folder, click Mozilla's Bookmarks 
menu and select File Bookmark. 
Change the page's name at the top, if 
you like, and then click the folder in 
which you want to store the link. 
Click OK when you finish. 

In Firefox 1.0, click Bookmarks 
and Bookmark This Page. You can re- 
name the link in the Add Bookmark 
window that appears, and choose a 
destination folder, too. Click OK 
when you're done. To rename an ex- 
isting bookmark in Firefox, click 
Bookmarks. Right-click the link, 
choose Properties, and enter a new 
name. Click OK to finish. 

Create a shortcut to an auction. 
Here's a way to place a shortcut, or 
icon, on your Desktop that will 
launch your browser and point it to 
the auction you've chosen. 

First, highlight the auction page's 
URL (uniform resource locator) in 
your browser's Address bar. Then 



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Here is the eBay Toolbar with its default buttons. You can add other buttons that link 
to PayPal, the items you're selling, and the Feedback page, among others. 



68 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



right- click the URL and choose Copy. 
Minimize all the application windows 
you have open. Right- click an empty 
space on your Desktop, then click New 
and Shortcut. Right-click the blank 
field marked Type The Location Of 
This Item and select Paste. Click Next, 
then type a name for the shortcut in 
the preffered field. Finally, click Finish. 

Your new shortcut icon will appear 
where you first right-clicked the 
Desktop, but you can click and drag it 
somewhere more convenient. You 
can even drag it down to the Quick 
Launch toolbar, if you have it en- 
abled, although you'll lose the icon's 
descriptive label. 

Tab auction pages. If you have a 
browser that supports tabbed browsing, 
such as Firefox or Mozilla, you can 
arrange to have all of the auctions 
you're watching appear whenever you 
launch your browser. This lets you hop 
from page to page with a single click. 

The trick is to open each auction's 
page in a separate tab, then set your 
home "page" to the current group of 
open tabs. Remember to repeat the 
latter step each time you add or re- 
move an auction tab, and you'll always 
have a bird's-eye view of your auctions 
whenever you go online. 



In Mozilla 1.7.5, when you find an 
auction you want to watch, click the 
Back button, and then hold down the 
CTRL key as you click the auction's 
link. Alternatively, you can right- click 
the link and select Open Link In New 
Tab. Once you've tabbed all the auc- 
tions you care to, click Edit, Prefer- 
ences, and Navigator. Next, in the 
Home Page section on the right, click 
Use Current Group. 

The process is similar in Firefox 
1.0. Set up your tabbed auction pages 
in the same manner described above 
for Mozilla. When you're ready to set 
them as your home group, however, 
click Tools and Options. In the 
Location(s) field of the Home Page 
section, select Use Current Pages. 

Install The eBay Toolbar 

eBay's Toolbar offers scads of cool 
features for auction junkies, including 
notifications about auctions you're 
watching. It's available in 13 lan- 
guages at this writing. The Toolbar is 
compatible with Windows 98/98SE/ 
Me/NT4(SP3)/2000 and XP. Unfor- 
tunately for security-minded users, 
the software currently only works 
with the IE browser. 



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You can't use the Toolbar if you don't use Internet Explorer. On the other 
hand, you can launch Mozilla (shown) or Firefox with each of your auctions 
in its own tab, something IE 6 can't do. 



We downloaded version 4.3.1.0 of 
the Toolbar at pages.ebay.com/ebay 
%5Ftoolbar. It was a 2.35MB download 
called ToolbarSetup.EXE. 

Double-click the file to begin the 
installation. Click Next, then Agree 
after you've read the software's User 
License Agreement and Privacy Policy. 

The next step is optional. It sets up 
the Toolbar's Account Guard Pass- 
word Protection feature, which eBay 
says can keep you from inadvertently 
logging onto a fake eBay or PayPal 
page, called a spoof, constructed by a 
password thief. What gave us pause is 
that in order to do this, Account 
Guard asks for your eBay and PayPal 
passwords up front. We complied and 
clicked Save, but you can click Skip 
This Step if you prefer. 

If you customarily install applica- 
tions to a different hard drive parti- 
tion or virtual drive (drive letter) than 
C:, click the Change button and type 
in the folder path into which you'd 
like to install the Toolbar. Click OK, 
Next, and Install. When the installa- 
tion completes, click Finish. 

Internet Explorer will launch with 
the new eBay Toolbar showing. Our 
Toolbar appended itself underneath 
IE's Address Bar. Click Sign In For 
Advanced Features on the Toolbar, 
which will take you to eBay's Sign In 
page. Type in your username and 
password, and then press ENTER. 

After you log in this way, you'll see 
more icons appear on your Toolbar. 
Some of these offer useful drop-down 
menus that help you keep track of 
auctions you're watching, whether 
you're buying or selling. The Custom- 
ize button, on the other hand, opens 
the Toolbar's Options panel. 

Note that the eBay Toolbar also 
lodges an icon in your Desktop's 
system tray, down in the corner by the 
clock. This TSR (terminate-and-stay- 
resident program), or daemon, loads at 
startup. Click it to see a small context 
menu with links to eBay's home page, 
My eBay, Search eBay, and Toolbar 
Preferences. All of these are accessible 
from the Toolbar itself, of course, but 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 69 



the system tray icon makes them avail- 
able even when IE isn't running. 

If you don't want the eBay icon TSR 
running all the time and sucking up 
about 7MB of RAM, click Start and 
Run. Type msconflg and press ENTER. 
Click the Startup tab on the right, and 
then uncheck the box next to eBay 
TBDaemon. Click Apply, OK, and 
Restart. After your PC reboots, a System 
Configuration Utility warning message 
will appear. Check the box labeled Don't 
Show This Message. . . , then click OK. 

Toolbar Features 

Let's take a closer look at each feature 
in the Toolbar, broken down by the 
buttons representing them. Note that 
several of these buttons aren't visible 
unless you add them in the Toolbar 
Options panel, also called Toolbar 
Preferences And Customization. 

To add these optional buttons, 
click the Customize button. On the 
left, select a button you would like to 
have on your Toolbar. Next, click the 
button in the center of the panel that 
has an arrow pointing toward the 
column on the right. This will add 
that feature to your Toolbar's lineup. 
Likewise, you can click the left arrow 
to remove a button. The Up and 
Down arrows on the far right will 
move a button left or right on the 
Toolbar, respectively. 

If you add too many buttons to fit 
the width of your screen, the Toolbar 
will have a double right arrow icon at 
the right. Click it to reveal the buttons 
hidden beneath it. The arrow icon 
acts the same way as the ones in Win 
XP's Start menu when the menu hides 
shortcuts to programs you haven't 
used in a while. 

Alternatively, you can scrunch all 
the buttons closer together by re- 
moving their text. Click Show Icons 
Only under the Options panel's 
Customize tab to do this. It's a little 
harder to choose the right button 
without their text labels, but you can 
hover your mouse pointer over each 
button to reveal their names. 



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The Toolbar's Alerts are kind of hard to ignore. Here's one at the lower right, 
plus a look at the Alerts button's menu. 



eBay button. Starting on the left of 
the Toolbar, we find the eBay button. 
Click it to go to the site's home page, 
or click the Down arrow icon next to 
it for a drop -down menu. 

The menu offers help on using eBay 
or the Toolbar. You can also log your 
username out of the Toolbar or visit 
the Options panel. And should you de- 
cide to get rid of the Toolbar later on, 
you'll find an uninstall link here, too. 

Search field. No matter what Web 
site you're visiting, you can do a quick 
eBay search using the Toolbar's Search 
field. Its drop-down list is a log of pre- 
vious search terms you can try again. 

You can use modifiers here to 
narrow your search, such as a minus 
sign (-) in front of words you don't 
want in an auction title. For example, 
you might type fox -michael. 

By default, if you type in a search 
term and press ENTER, the Toolbar 
will search only auction titles, not ti- 
tles and descriptions. For more pre- 
cise auction hunting, you need to 
use the. . . . 

Search button. Click the Down 
arrow icon next to this button to 
better target your search for the term 
you typed into the blank. If you click 
the Search button itself, it will search 
listing titles only. 



Besides titles and descriptions, the 
Search drop-down menu lets you limit 
your quest to eBay's Stores, Buy It Now 
listings, completed auctions, or certain 
sellers or bidders. If you're often seized 
by the impulse to do a quick eBay 
search, this button alone will make the 
Toolbar worth your while. 

Account Guard. This button con- 
cerns eBay's antispoofing, anti- 
phishing (phishing means trying to 
trick users into revealing their pass- 
words and usernames) service we 
mentioned above. You can report sus- 
picious Web sites with it and tell the 
Toolbar when you've changed pass- 
words on eBay and PayPal. The 
button also offers links to online se- 
curity tutorials from both sites. 

Alerts. This button shows you any 
Alerts you've received on your 
Desktop about a particular auction 
closing, someone outbidding you, 
Second Chance Offers, and other 
events. To change your Alerts prefer- 
ences, click Customize and the Alerts 
And Sign -In tab. 

Buying. For an overview of your 
overspending, click the Buying but- 
ton. Its menu items are self-explana- 
tory: what you're watching, what 
you've bid on, and so on. The Leave 
Feedback link here can be useful. 



70 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Buying 



Favorites. Not to be confused with 
IE's Favorites drop-down menu, the 
eBay Toolbar's Favorites is a list of 
common search terms, sellers, and 
Stores you want to keep. Click the 
Learn More . . . links to learn how to 
set these Favorites. 

If your quest for a near- mint copy 
of Iron Man #1 proves long and ar- 
duous, at least you won't have to keep 
retyping the same terms and modi- 
fiers every time you search. Also, if 
you find a seller you like, or who spe- 
cializes in just the sort of thing you're 
looking for, you'll quickly come to 
depend on this button. 

Customize. This button takes you 
to the Customize tab of the Toolbar 
Options panel. We've already talked 
about using this tab to change the 
buttons you see on your Toolbar, so 
let's start with the tab on the far left. 

The Alerts And Sign-In tab lets you 
adjust the audiovisual pop-ups that the 



Toolbar will put on your Desktop 
when an auction you're watching or 
bidding on is about to end. At the 
bottom is a Sign- In Lock feature, which 
can keep your username logged into 
the Toolbar so that it can continue to 
monitor the auctions you're watching. 

In the Display Preferences tab, you 
can set the Search button to peruse ti- 
tles and descriptions or item numbers 
by default, rather than titles only. 
Among the other settings here is an 
option to display eBay's official time 
format instead of your local time, 
which may cut down on some mental 
arithmetic for you. 

Finally, the Account Guard Prefer- 
ences tab is long on exposition and 
short on settings. Basically, there's an 
on/off toggle for Account Guard, a 
button to reset the list of sites you 
think are safe, and a provision to 
delete or update your Toolbar pass- 
words. Note that you must officially 



How To Find Completed Sales 



D'oh! You missed it. An auction you cared about ended without you, and now 
you're wondering where you'll find another Lucky Charms leprechaun- 
shaped pencil eraser in such good condition. 

At least you can see what the final price was. eBay keeps listings of completed 
auctions for 15 days. On your eBay Toolbar, type a search term and then click 
Search Completed Items Only in the Search drop-down menu. 

If you don't have the Toolbar, go to eBay's Search: Find Items page (search.ebay.com 
/ws/search/AdvSearch?sofindtype=13). Check the Completed Listings Only box, and 
you're set. I 



File Edit View 



Bookmarks Tools Window Help 



Back Forward Reload Stop ' 



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Search: Find Items 



Search 
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■ Find Items 

■ By Item Specifics 

■ Items by Seller 
It ! ; •. by Bidder 

■ By Item Number 

Stores 

■ Items in Stores 
Find Stores 

Members 

■ Find a Member 
Find Contact 
Information 
Find User ID 



Enter ke yword or item number 

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In this category 

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You can look up completed auctions on eBay's Search page or through the Toolbar. 



change your passwords on the eBay or 
PayPal sites; simply changing them in 
the eBay Toolbar won't do the trick. 

PayPal. Besides offering links to 
PayPal's home and auction tools 
pages, this button lets you send and 
request money using your PayPal ac- 
count. If you're new to PayPal, try the 
Help link. 

Bid Alert, Watch Alert. These two 
buttons split the Alerts button into 
bidding and watching segments. Both 
have How To Use . . . links to tutorials. 

Items Won. Whether you want to 
gloat on the field of victory or wring 
your hands over how you're going to 
pay for all the stuff you've won, con- 
sider this button your winner's circle. 
It has links to a feedback manager 
and PayPal. 

Selling. Besides things you're 
selling or have sold, there's room here 
for your unsold items and the stuff 
you've scheduled to auction later (up 
to three weeks in advance). 

Top Picks. This is really a Favorites 
list that eBay has already filled for 
you. In addition to links to popular 
destinations such as eBay Motors And 
Electronics, you'll find shortcuts to 
the U.S. Postal Service, eBay's official 
date and time page, and Google. 

Announcements, Community, 
and Feedback. These buttons link to 
these three important pages on eBay. 
No, really. 

One Tool Among Many 

Don't feel that you have to choose 
just one of these tracking tools and 
stick with it. We use any number of 
these, plus My eBay, depending on 
our needs at the time. 

When we're doing a lot of selling or 
bidding, the Toolbar and My eBay be- 
come attractive options. When we're 
only eBaying once in a blue moon, we 
tend to bookmark auctions we like. 
The point is to make your auction 
tracking fit your style, not the other 
way around. \k\ 

by Marty Sems 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 71 



How To Pay For 
Items On eBay 

It's Time To Pony Up 




If you've spent much time on eBay, 
you've known the thrill of the hunt. 
The night is quiet; the auction 
closing fast. You sit tensely in shadows, 
willing unseen rivals to give themselves 
away. The blue glint of flat-screen 
mingles with the steely gleam of con- 
sumptive ardor in your glittering eyes. 
You catch your breath with anticipa- 
tion, hold your index finger poised for 
action over the left mouse button — 
not yet, wait until the winds are just 
right — and then pounce! And the prize 
is yours; other bidders are forced to re- 
turn to the hunt unsatisfied. 

But the hunter's high ebbs quicker 
than a broadband download, and 
grim reality sets in as you notice the 
price you paid for victory. Or rather, 
the price you agreed to pay; for now, 
the money's still in your wallet. And 
so, a more prosaic question now con- 
fronts you: How to compensate the 
buyer for your new treasure? In this 



article, we'll suggest a few ideas for 
doing this, from the elegant to the 
foolish and everything in between. 
First up, of course, is PayPal. 

PayPal. For the uninitiated, PayPal is 
an Internet service with which you can 
register your bank account or credit 
cards for easy access during all kinds of 
online transactions. A simple click on 
the right icon takes you to your PayPal 
account, where you log in and autho- 
rize payment. Because the seller never 
sees any personal information about a 
PayPal buyer, apart from an email ad- 
dress, there is little risk of fraud. These 
days, even perfectly secure online re- 
tailers (such as Amazon.com) offer 
PayPal services because logging into 
PayPal is easier than typing in credit 
card information by hand. The only 
catch: the seller must have a PayPal ac- 
count, too (not so with BidPay; see 
below). PayPal gets a big thumbs-up 
from eBay, not surprisingly, as eBay 



owns the service. (For more informa- 
tion on PayPal, see "How To Use 
PayPal" on page 74). 

Personal checks, cashier's checks, 
and money orders. These low-tech al- 
ternatives are fairly safe (no one sees 
your bank account or credit card in- 
formation), though you will forgo 
some additional protections. For one, 
there's no credit card company to file a 
claim with if the seller takes the money 
and runs. A higher-tech analogue is 
BidPay.com, which will cut a money 
order for you (or deposit the money in 
registered sellers' bank accounts); this 
eBay- sanctioned service works much 
like PayPal but does not require the re- 
cipient to have an account. Checks and 
money orders are traceable (a positive 
thing if you're on this side of the law) 
and can usually be cancelled any time, 
up to their deposit in a seller's account, 
if the deal turns sour. eBay's Standard 
Purchase Protection Program covers 
transactions by check or money order, 
which will reimburse bamboozled 
buyers for up to $200 in lost payments, 
minus a $25 fee. 

Credit card. Some professional 
sellers (those who run eBay Stores, for 
example) will accept credit card pay- 
ments directly. Generally, a seller who 
does a large volume of business with a 
platinum feedback rating is trust- 
worthy, and eBay sanctions direct pay- 
ments via credit card to these types of 
sellers. As with any purchases over the 
Internet, you should be sure that the 
padlock icon appears in the lower- right 
corner of your Web site whenever 
you're at a page asking for your per- 
sonal information. Should you find 
yourself defrauded, the Fair Credit 
Billing Act limits your personal liability 
to $50 if you discover and report erro- 
neous charges within 60 days. Lucky 
for you, the generosity of most major 
credit card vendors exceeds even the 
federal government's. You pay not a 
dime when your Discover, Amex, 
MasterCard, or Visa gets ripped off (if 
you report it within 60 days). Most 
credit cards companies also run fraud- 
detecting software that alerts customer 



72 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



service when unusual charges appear 
on your card. Given these safeguards, 
naked credit card transactions are a 
reasonable option if you make a token 
effort to review your statement every 
month. On deals gone bad, eBay will 
permit you to invoke Purchase Protec- 
tion only if you can show proof that the 
credit card company has denied your 
claim to recover the funds. 

Debit or check card. A debit card 
packages the convenience of a credit 
card transaction with an ingenious 
built-in impulse -control mechanism — 
a spending limit the exact size of your 
bank account. Paying by debit or 
check card (through PayPal or directly 
to the seller) works just like using a 
credit card. You will, how- 
ever, sacrifice some of the 
fraud protection you get 
with a credit card. The Elec- 
tronic Funds Transfer Act 
limits the damage to $50 if 
you catch the theft within 
two days and $500 if you re- 
port it within 60 days; you're 
busted completely after that 
(and you won't even earn 
anySkyMiles.) 

Online bill paying. Many 
banks now offer free online 
bill paying, and setting up 
new recipients is a fairly 
painless job. This option is 
enticing particularly if you 
anticipate a number of fu- 
ture business dealings with 
the same seller. When you point- and- 
click a payment online, your bank will 
either deposit the funds directly in the 
seller's account or cut the seller a 
check; so this payment method is 
roughly equivalent in security level to 
either a bank-to-bank wire transfer or 
a personal/cashier's check (see above). 

Escrow. You probably don't want 
to bother with escrow for that un- 
wrapped "Sopranos" DVD, but you'll 
need it if you're an eBay Motors cus- 
tomer. An escrow service holds the 
buyer's payment in safekeeping until 
the buyer has received and approved 
the shipment (and buyer and seller 



have met any other conditions agreed 
to ahead of time), and then transfers 
that money to the seller, less a small 
fee. OK, a big fee (25% or so) for 
purchases of $100 or less; much more 
reasonable fees, in the 1% to 7% 
range, for transactions of $1,000 or 
more. eBay recommends that you 
only go through its preferred vendor, 
Escrow.com, and that you type the 
address of the site you want to visit 
yourself, because a hyperlink in an 
unscrupulous seller's email could 
dump you instead at a spoofed (imi- 
tated) Web site. For more on escrow 
services (including recommended in- 
ternational escrow sites), see "The 
Escrow Advantage" on page 77. 




*"-' : , : -__\ 



If you're buying an expensive item purchased through eBay, such as 
a car, you should pay for it through Escrow.com. 



Bank-to-bank wire transfers. Wire 
transfers are quick like a bunny, so you 
can ship that microwave oven to your 
door as fast as the FedEx 757 flies. Your 
bank will hit you with a fee, however, 
usually $10 to $20 (for domestic wires). 
To receive funds, a seller will have to 
provide you with a bank account and 
routing number. Many sellers are 
averse to this transaction because of the 
risk it exposes them to on their end. If 
you are at all suspicious of a seller, you 
can request his contact information (if 
you are involved in a transaction with 
him) and verify this against the infor- 
mation on the bank account. 



Instant cash wire transfers. Western 
Union is great for keeping the kids fi- 
nancially solvent at college, but wire 
transfers are a bit of a dicey way to do 
business with someone you don't 
know. Because companies such as 
Western Union or Moneygram don't 
require a bank account on the recipi- 
ent's end (just an ID), they are a racke- 
teer's preferred delivery system. eBay 
warns buyers to regard very skeptically 
any seller who requires payment by 
wire transfer, and does not extend the 
Purchase Protection option buyers who 
use this option. The major advantage 
here is speed. You can get the money 
there within 24 hours. And, of course, 
instant cash wire transfer is safer than 
an envelope stuffed with cash. 

An envelope stuffed with 
cash. The last resort for 
desperados and vagabonds, 
mailing cash is also great way 
to avoid a paper trail if 
you're trafficking in bogus 
Chinese Louis Vuitton. If 
you're doing legitimate busi- 
ness, on the other hand, 
there's no reason to resort to 
this. eBay admonishes buyers 
never to send cash and does 
not offer Purchase Protec- 
tion to hotheads who ignore 
the warnings. 

You can find more informa- 
tion on most of these payment 

options at pages.ebay.com 

/help/confidence/isgw-fraud- 
sending-payments.html. Whichever 
way you choose to pay, be sure that you 
communicate your intentions with the 
seller ahead of time. Clear communica- 
tion will grease the wheels. And never 
pay a seller you're at all suspicious 
about; just move on and tattletale to 
eBay if the situation calls for it. 
Remember: The hangover of paying in- 
evitably follows the giddy intoxication 
of spending. We can't sell you a miracle 
cure, but maybe with this information 
we've managed to ease the headache a 
little bit. Qjs] 

by Ryan Turner 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 73 



How To Use 
PayPal 

eBay's Payment Service Is Fast & Easy 




If you're like most online shoppers, 
your least favorite part of buying 
online is the payment process. But 
if you win an auction from a seller 
that accepts PayPal, paying the seller 
will be a breeze and will also be safer 
than haphazardly sending him your 
credit card information across the 
open plains of the Internet. 

PayPal is more convenient than 
using a credit card. Compare a stan- 
dard online credit card transaction 
with a PayPal transaction: 

Let's assume you buy a book online 
and pay for it with a credit card. When 
you pay the bill in the checkout section 
of the Web site, you enter your credit 
card number, the card's expiration 
date, and finally the three- or four- 
digit security code number found on 
the back of the card. Next, you'll have 
to enter your billing address. With all 
the identity theft warnings floating 
around, it would seem the last thing 



££jj£&T 



you want to do is send both your 
credit card information and your 
home address across the Internet, se- 
cure connection or not. But you can't 
make the purchase without it, so on- 
line it goes. 

On the other hand, if an 
eBay vendor accepts Pay- 
Pal, and you have a PayPal 
account, paying for an item 
is a much less complicated 
process. Enter your PayPal 
ID (usually your email ad- 
dress) and then enter your 
password. That's it. 

All the other informa- 
tion is already recorded 
and verified and safely 
stored in your PayPal ac- 
count. The vendor gets 
his payment but no per- 
sonal information from 
you at all. And you get the 
auction item you won. 



But What Is PayPal? 

PayPal started out as an indepen- 
dent transaction broker for Internet 
purchases. The service records your 
credit card and bank account data 
and other personal information. 
PayPal has become the darling of 
eBay users because it facilitates the 
quick and secure exchange of pay- 
ments. Once you've signed up for a 
PayPal account (which only takes a 
few minutes), the details are done, 
and you can begin buying or selling 
and leave the transactions to PayPal. 

Just one year ago, PayPal had about 
36 million users; today it has more than 
56 million users. Clearly, the service is 
gaining momentum and is considered a 
viable and trusted payment processing 
option. This popularity is partly driven 
by the system's tight integration with 
eBay, which owns PayPal. eBay sellers 
can easily add PayPal as a method for 
accepting payments for their auctions, 
and eBay provides built-in payment 
tracking mechanisms that help the 
sellers track their sales and payments. 

Set Up Your PayPal Account 

Creating your PayPal account is 
easy, as long as you have your financial 
information handy. But first, you will 
need to decide which of the three ac- 
count types you need. You can always 



Sign Up for a PayPal Account 



Send and receive fast, secure, online payments with PayPal. What k 
Choose your account type: 
{+; Personal Account 



Ideal for online shopping. Send and receive payments for free through PayPal's secure 
network, Personal accounts cannot accept debit or credit card payments, Learn More 

O Premier Account 

Perfect for buying and selling on eBay or merchant websites, Accept all payment 
types for low fees . Do business under your own name. Learn More 

:: Business Account 

The right choice for your online business. Accept all payment types for hj. j, Do 

business under a company or group name, Learn More 



Select the country in which you live: 



| Continue | 



Select the type of account that fits your needs. You can 
always upgrade if necessary. 



74 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



start off with the basic Personal Ac- 
count and upgrade to either the Pre- 
mier Account or the Business Account 
if your needs change. 

The Personal Account is the best 
option if you're simply buying prod- 
ucts online, especially through eBay. 
The account and any transactions you 
make through it are free, and you can 
accept payments, as well, but only 
from other PayPal accounts. If you 
sell items on eBay using a Personal 
Account, you won't be able to accept 
credit cards, a limitation that may 
limit your sales volume. Users with a 
Personal Account are also eligible for 
PayPal's Buyer Protection Plan. eBay 
Sellers can choose to offer this protec- 
tion, and if they do, you'll see the 
PayPal protection plan logo in the 
auction listing. The protection only 
covers physical goods and only if you 
pay for the item using PayPal. 

The Premier Account is a better 
choice if you intend to frequently sell 
items online. In addition to PayPal's 



Wireless PayPal 



Besides using PayPal to pay for pur- 
chases on eBay and other online 
merchants, you can use it to send 
money to anyone who has an email 
account. You can even send a PayPal 
transaction from your cell phone's 
Web browser if you're really in a hurry. 

Just browse to the PayPal Web 
site on your cell phone, PDA, or 
wireless laptop and log in. Once you 
log in to your account, all you need 
to do is enter the email address of 
the person you want to send your 
money to. Enter the amount you 
want to send and select which ac- 
count the money should be taken 
from (checking account or credit 
card) and authorize the transaction. 

Your recipient receives an email 
announcement that your payment 
is waiting for them. If they have a 
PayPal account, they can simply log 
in to it and transfer the cash to their 
authenticated account. I 



'The Premier Account is 

a better choice if you intend to 
frequently sell items online." 



Personal Account features, you can 
also accept credit card payments. The 
Premier Account includes several fea- 
tures that make life easier and safer 
for eBay sellers, such as the ability to 
use eBay's shopping cart to sell items 
from your Web site and reporting 
tools to help you record payments. 

Once you've selected the type of ac- 
count you want, choose your country 
in the drop -down menu at the bottom 
of the page and click Continue. The 
next page asks you for your personal 
contact information. This is the same 
information you'd provide for a typ- 
ical online purchase, including your 
name, address, phone number, email 
address, and two security questions 
the service can use to verify your iden- 
tity if you forget your password. Fill in 
the information and read both the pri- 
vacy and user agreements before you 
click the Yes radio buttons at the 
bottom. You'll also have to enter a se- 
curity code in a blank field at the 
bottom of the page. Once that's done, 
click the Sign Up button. 

Remember that your PayPal account 
is tied to your bank ac- 
count. You should use a 
password that's different 
from your eBay password, 
or for that matter, different 
from any other password 
you use. And make it more 
complex than your typical 
passwords. Your PayPal 
password should be at least 
eight characters long. Use a 
combination of uppercase 
and lowercase characters, 
numbers, and at least one 
special character, such as 
@ or %, to make guess- 
ing your PayPal password 
nearly impossible. 



Once you've completed these steps, 
PayPal will send you a confirmation 
email containing a Click Here To 
Activate Your Account link. When you 
click this link, you'll bring up a PayPal 
page that requests your password. Enter 
the password and click Submit, and 
your account is active and ready to go. 

Almost Ready 

Your PayPal account is nearly ready 
to use. The next step is to provide 
PayPal with your financial information. 

Click the Add Bank Account link in 
the upper-left corner of the Personal 
Account Overview page to enter your 
bank account information. PayPal links 
directly to your bank account and acts 
like a checking account. You can have 
PayPal use your bank account to pay 
for your purchases and make deposits 
directly to your bank when you receive 
payments through PayPal. Using one 
of your checks or deposit slips for ref- 
erence, enter the bank name, account 
type, the bank routing number, and 
your account number. 



Add U.S. Bank Account 



The safety and security of your bank account information is protected by PayPal. We 
protect against unauthorized withdrawals and will notify you by email whenever you 
deposit or withdraw funds from this bank account. 

Adding a bank account is the first step towards becoming Verified, Lean - - .--■:■■■$ 

Country: United States 
Bank Name: 



Account Type: ©checking 
O Savings 
Routing Number: ■; 



Is usually located between the ■ symbols on your check. 



Typically comes before the ir symbol, Its exact location and 
number of digits varies from bank to bank. 



U.S. Check Sample 



•:Eii5S44as>: ocie LtsLjniau - 



Routing Number 
! E11SS4MA5 ■ 



lMSLfl74flDl II 



You only have to follow a few easy steps to add a bank 
account to your PayPal account. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 75 



All financial and data collec- 
tion functions are done over a 
secure connection, so your in- 
formation is protected while it's 
in-transit to PayPal. And the fact 
that this may be the last time 
you need to send your financial 
information over the Internet 
should make you feel more se- 
cure about taking this step. 

After you've entered your 
bank information, PayPal will 
make two deposits to your ac- 
count, but you're not going to 
get rich from it. The total of 
both deposits will come to less 
than $1. Check your bank ac- 
count in the next day or so 
and make note of the amounts 
of the two transactions from 
PayPal, and then log into your 
PayPal account. Look for the 
Unverified link and click it. You 
will go to a page that lets you 
enter the amounts PayPal de- 
posited in your account. This is 
a simple way to verify that you 
have access to the bank account 
you listed. Once that's done, 
your PayPal account is validated 
and you have full use of the fea- 
tures included in your account. 

Personal Accounts have a 
$500 monthly limit on receipts. 
If you expect to receive more 
than $500 each month, you will 
need to upgrade to either a Premier 
or Business Account. The amount 
you can send via PayPal is only lim- 
ited by the balance in your bank ac- 
count. Another limit to PayPal is the 
amount you can withdraw from your 
PayPal account each month. In order 
to take more than $500 from your ac- 
count in any one month, you need to 
perform any two of these three steps: 

• Validate your bank account (which 

you may have already done) 

• Provide your social security number 

• Add a credit card to your account 



In fact, you may want to add a cred- 
it card to your banking information 
as an alternate way to pay for PayPal 




Pay Anyone 

Send Money 



-^i.. t :•-■:::'■;?::— =i 



You can pay anyone with an email address in the 45 countries that accept PayPal. Use 
PayPal to send payments in U.S. Dollars. Canadian Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling., and 
Yen. 



Recipient's Email: 
Amount: 



J 



J Limit: $0.00 USD Add credit card to r 



Currency: 


U.S. Dollars v | Q 


Category of Purchase: 


- r -.:-ih : : t r:. ~. :e -- 


Ha 






Email Subject: 
(optional) 


1 


Note: 
(optional) 





To send money to someone via PayPal, just fill out this online 
form in your PayPal account. 



EG&t&T 



Download History 


Si 


ure Transaction i 


Choose from one of the two options below, 

Custom Date Range 

Download all payments that started within the date range you 
specify. 




Downloadable 
Histcrv Lcq 
Updates 

Quicken Notice! 


From: | D2 j |oi | / 2005 | To: 02 | / |P8 / |2005 | 


2005 .Off file 



File Types for Download !- 



O Last Download to Prese Comma Delimited ■ All Activity 

Use this new option to dc. Comma Delimited ■ Completed Payments 
2/1/2005 Tab Delimited -All Activity 

Tab Delimited - Completed Payments 
Note: The first time you i Quicken f.qifp 
to a week prior to the cui Quickbooks i.iifi 



File Types for Download: --Select-- 



' 



PayPal includes a History Report feature that lets you 
download and review your transactions. 



purchases. When you buy something 
using your PayPal account, you have 
the option of selecting the source of 
funds. You may have several bank ac- 
counts and credit cards associated with 
your account, and you can select which 
to use for a particular purchase or to 
deposit any funds you receive. 

Where's The Cash? 

When you make a payment using 
PayPal, you can simply email the 
money to the seller. Click the Send 
Money tab at the top of your Per- 
sonal Account Overview page and 
then enter the recipient's email ad- 
dress. Enter the amount you want to 



send in the Amount box. You 
can also choose the type of cur- 
rency (such as U.S. dollars or 
euros) and type of purchase 
from a pair of drop-down list 
boxes. Click the Continue 
button at the bottom of the 
page, and your PayPal payment 
is on its way to the recipient. 

If you have a verified bank 
account, you can transfer mon- 
ey from your bank or credit 
card to your PayPal account or 
have money in your PayPal 
account transferred to your 
bank at no charge. Transac- 
tions usually arrive in two to 
three days. 

The relationship between 
PayPal and eBay has been a 
great convenience for eBay 
users because you can track 
your purchases using PayPal's 
History report. Once you log 
into your account, click the 
History tab. You can select a 
date range for your report and 
can even download your trans- 
actions in several file formats, 
including Quicken .QIF and 
Quickbooks .IIF, so you can im- 
port these files directly into 
your accounting applications. 
If for some reason you aren't 
_ satisfied with something you 
bought with your PayPal ac- 
count, you have some protection 
through the eBay Purchase Protection 
program. Check the "PayPal Protec- 
tion For Buyers & Sellers" article on 
page 133 for more information. 

If you are making transactions 
online, you can save yourself consid- 
erable time and ensure secure transac- 
tions by setting up your own PayPal 
account. When using PayPal on eBay, 
be sure to look for the PayPal Buyer's 
Protection Plan icon in auction list- 
ings. By making your online pur- 
chases through PayPal, you'll keep 
your sensitive financial information 
to yourself, [jjs] 

by Scott Koegler 



76 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



The Escrow 
Advantage 

Escrow.com Protects Your eBay Transactions 




You've undoubtedly seen the news 
reports warning about online 
auction fraud. One tells of a guy 
in Camden, Del., who bilked three 
people out of nearly $50,000 by selling 
them cars he didn't own. Another de- 
scribes a lady in Boston who raked in 
$800,000 by auctioning off box loads of 
imaginary computer equipment. Such 
antics — and the widespread publicity 
that surrounds them — may lead you to 
believe that online auctions are an ex- 
ercise in risk management. Fortunately, 
they aren't. By using an escrow service, 
such as Escrow.com, when paying for 
high-dollar merchandise, auction 
buyers and sellers can virtually elimi- 
nate the threat of Internet thievery. 

All About Escrow 

An escrow is money or property 
that is temporarily held by an inter- 
mediary during a transaction between 
two or more parties. The interme- 
diary holds the escrow until the con- 
ditions of the transaction are satisfied, 
at which point the intermediary re- 
leases the escrow to the party with the 
contractual right to receive it. 



When it comes to online auctions, 
an escrow service operates between 
the buyer and the seller. After a buyer 
and seller have negotiated the terms of 
a sale, the buyer submits payment to 
the escrow service. The service pro- 
cesses and verifies the payment and 
then signals to the seller that payment 
has been received. The seller ships the 
merchandise to the buyer. The buyer 
is then given a predetermined amount 
of time to inspect the merchandise 
after receiving it. If dissatisfied, the 
buyer returns the merchandise to the 
seller and notifies the escrow service 
that it should withhold payment. 
Otherwise, the buyer does nothing 
and the escrow service releases pay- 
ment to the seller when the inspection 
period expires. The escrow service 
takes a cut of the total sales amount as 
payment for its role in the transaction. 

Escrow.com, eBay's Middleman 

Because of the amounts involved in 
escrow transactions, it's crucial that 
you select an escrow service with a rec- 
ognizable name and sterling reputa- 
tion. Escrow.com has both. As the only 



Escaping Escrow Scams 



There's a reason Escrow.com is 
the only escrow service recom- 
mended by eBay for domestic trans- 
actions: to minimize the likelihood 
of anyone falling victim to escrow 
scams. Though escrow scams are 
less common now than a couple of 
years ago, auction buyers and sellers 
should be aware of them. 

Here's how an escrow scam 
works: A seller requires that a buyer 
use a particular escrow service. The 
buyer, assuming that the service is 
legitimate, willingly complies and 
sends off a check for the agreed- 
upon amount. Unfortunately, the 
escrow service is actually a front for 
the unscrupulous seller, who pock- 
ets the money without sending the 
buyer any merchandise. 

You can avoid becoming a victim 
of an escrow scam simply by requiring 
that all escrow transactions be han- 
dled by Escrow.com or one of eBay's 
four recommended international es- 
crow services: Escrow Australia 
(www.escrowaustralia.com.au/index 
.php), Escrow Europa (www.escrow- 
europa.com), iloxx (ebay.iloxx.de), 
and Triple Deal (corporate.tripledeal 
.com). Do not buy merchandise from 
anyone who requires you to use an- 
other escrow service. I 

escrow service recommended by eBay 
for transactions conducted inside the 
United States, Escrow.com is the de 
facto service among eBay regulars. eBay 
recommends all buyers and sellers em- 
ploy Escrow.com to handle transac- 
tions of $500 or more. 

Anyone can sign up for an Escrow 
.com account. Simply click the Register 
button located in the upper-left corner 
of the Escrow.com home page (www 
.escrow.com). Registration involves 
providing your mailing address, email 
address, and phone number, and 
picking a username and password. 
Shortly thereafter, you'll receive a mes- 
sage containing a code that you must 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 77 



enter the next time you log in. The 
verification message ensures that your 
registration was complete. 

Once you have logged into Escrow 
.com, you're able to participate in a 
transaction. To initiate one, log into 
Escrow.com and click the Start button 
located under the Start A New Trans- 
action heading. Escrow.com will ask 
you to describe the details of the trans- 
action. You should indicate whether 
you're selling a vehicle, domain name, 
or general merchandise; whether you're 
the buyer or seller; fee and shipping 
arrangements; and length of time the 
buyer will have to inspect the merchan- 
dise. You also will be asked to define 
and accept the terms of the sale. 
Finally, if you have registered as the 
seller, you will be asked to specify the 
payment method, which may include 
paper check, cashier's check, money 
order, wire transfer, PayPal, or credit 
card. PayPal and credit card transac- 
tions are considered Premier services 
(all other transactions are considered 
Standard services) and subject to a 
maximum limit of $5,000. 

After accepting the terms of the 
sale, Escrow.com will email the second 
party and ask him to register with 



Escrow.com (if the party has never 
previously used the service) or log in 
with an Escrow.com username and 
password. After registering or logging 
in, the second party will need to view 
and agree to the terms of the active 
transaction. If the second party is the 
seller, the second party will need to 
specify the payment method, as well. 

How the rest of the transaction pro- 
ceeds from here depends on several 
factors, including the speed with which 
the buyer submits payment to Escrow 
.com, whether the payment is verified, 
the method of delivery, and whether 
the buyer accepts the merchandise after 
inspecting it. In a best-case scenario, 
the transaction may be completed in 
about a week. Assuming that the buyer 
does not cancel the transaction before 
the inspection period has ended, 
Escrow.com will issue the seller a check 
or wire transfer for the amount of the 
sale minus any fees the seller has agreed 
to pay. (See "The Expense Of Escrow" 
sidebar for details about fees.) 

In the event that a buyer is dissatis- 
fied with the merchandise (if the mer- 
chandise is damaged, for instance), she 
can log into Escrow.com and click the 
Reject button for the transaction. The 



transaction is not yet over, though. The 
buyer must return the merchandise to 
the seller at the buyer's expense. When 
the seller receives the merchandise in 
the same condition it was sent, 
Escrow.com will refund the buyer's 
money minus the escrow fee. Escrow 
.com recommends that sellers (and 
buyers who return unwanted merchan- 
dise) insure their shipments because 
Escrow.com will hold the shipping 
party responsible for damaged goods. 

No Hassles Or Headaches 

An escrow transaction is much more 
complicated than the above descrip- 
tion, of course. That doesn't mean it 
has to be difficult. Indeed, an escrow 
transaction can alleviate nearly all 
of the headaches and hassles associated 
with auction transactions involv- 
ing substantial amounts of money. 
To optimize the experience, we rec- 
ommend that buyers and sellers re- 
view Escrow.com's list of Frequently 
Asked Questions at www.escrow.com/ 
support/faq/index.asp before initiating 
an escrow transaction. H 

by Jeff Dodd 



The Expense Of Escrow 


r scrow.com receives a fee for every transaction it processes. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the transaction total— an 
Lm amount that includes the price of the merchandise plus shipping costs— and varies depending on whether the user prefers 
Standard or Premiere service. 

The service also charges a fee on wire transfers ($20 for domestic, $40 for international), overnight check deliveries ($20 for 
domestic, $30 for international), and some electronic checks ($10 one-time fee for preauthorization of new accounts). These 
fees may be paid by the buyer or seller as dictated by the terms of the transaction. 


Amount Of Transaction 


Standard Service 


Premium Service 


Up to $5,000 


3.25% ($25 minimum) 


6.3% ($25 minimum) 


$5,000.01 to $25,000 


$162.50 + 0.26% of amount over $5,000 


Not available 


More than $25,000 


0.89% of total amount 


Not available 


Sample Fees On A . . . 


Standard Service 


Premium Service 


$700 transaction 


$25 


$44.10 


$4,250 transaction 


$138.13 


$267.75 


$17,975 transaction 


$196.24 


Not available 


$32,500 transaction 


$289.25 


Not available 



78 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 





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Diamonds In The 
Rough 

Check Out How We Did On These Auctions 




What eBay user hasn't spent 
at least one night dreaming 
about stumbling across that 
perfect auction? The one where you 
find the exact item you're looking for 
in pristine condition, and it seems 
that everyone has simply overlooked 
it. Do these auctions really exist, or 
would your time be better spent 
searching for Atlantis or El Dorado? 
We tried our hand at getting some 
good deals on eBay, and here's how 
our auctions shook out. 



Item 1 : "Willy Wonka and the 
Chocolate Factory" DVD 



We were feeling a bit nostalgic 
when we came across this gem of a 
flick. We limped into this auction with 
the minimum bid and tons of time 
left, expecting to get outbid. The time 
gradually ticked away, and before we 
could say "Oompa Loompa" we were 
logging into PayPal to 
take care of the 
expense. 



Won/Lost 




Won 


Starting Price 




$9.99 


Ending Price 




$9.99 


Our High Bid 




$9.99 


Time left when 
winning bid was 


placed 


7 hours 
20 minutes 



Granted, this purchase wasn't the 
bargain of the century, but we didn't 
get ripped off either. When we 
searched for this DVD, our query re- 
turned 26 items that were brand new. 
Of these 26 results, the vast majority 
had opening bids from $8 to $10. 
Many featured "Buy It Now" options 
in the neighborhood of $15 to $20. 
One variable that we paid close atten- 
tion to was the DVD's shipping and 
handling costs. These DVDs aver- 
aged about $6 to process and ship. 
However, the seller we used had only 
a $4 charge for shipping. Though we 
saved only a couple bucks, the old "A 
penny saved is a penny earned" spiel 
from Ben Franklin popped into our 
heads. The seller offered insurance for 
an extra $1.30, which we paid for, to 
ensure a safe and timely arrival for 
our new movie. It arrived about a 
week later in a Styrofoam peanut- 
filled box and in perfect condition. 



Item #2: Vintage Smoking Jacket 


Won/Lost 




Lost 


Starting Price 




$1 


Ending Price 




$26.01 


Our High Bid 




$10 


Time left when 
winning bid was 


placed 


2 hours 
24 minutes 




One of the more nostalgic items 
we came across was a vintage smok- 
ing jacket, and it really caught our 
eye. Maybe it was just an appeal to 
our soft spot for vanity. Who among 
us hasn't dreamt of kicking our 
feet up in a leather-upholstered 
Victorian high-backed chair in 
our study, while reading 
Chaucer and sipping a 
robust merlot? What 
better vestment to 
accentuate the event 
than a classic smok- 
ing jacket? 
The description of 
this item noted that it was 
far from perfect. It was 



80 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



used and had a couple snags, which 
were documented in the photographs. 
But with a $1 starting bid and only a 
$4.50 shipping and handling charge 
(other sellers were charging upwards 
of $10), you'd have to be a fool not to 
jump on this item, right? We decided 
to attack this auction and entered a 
max bid of $10 right out of the gates. 

We regretted this bid as soon as we 
placed it, and for a number of rea- 
sons. First, the snags and holes in the 
jacket made our stomachs queasier 
each time we looked at them. After 
researching a few more items, we 
learned a valuable lesson: Just be- 
cause an item is used doesn't mean 
that it has to look that way. There 
were plenty of other jackets up for 
auction that were in way better shape, 
and ending just a few dollars higher 
than this one. Also, after being bom- 
barded by a blizzard, we wondered if 
going after a silk smoking jacket, as 
opposed to one made of a heavier 
material such as corduroy, was a 
good idea. Furthermore, how would 
it fit? Sure this coat would be a steal if 
we could get it at our bid, but is it re- 
ally worth spending money on some- 
thing that we don't get to try on 
before we buy? After all, measure- 
ments can only tell us so much. 

As the auction drew on and we 
weren't outbid, we felt the sweat 
starting to condense on our palms. 
Luckily, after 37 nerve-racking hours 
of praying that someone would take 
over the high-bidder's podium, 
someone outbid us and we were off 
the hook. 



Item #3: 1981 Topps Joe Montana 
Rookie Card #216 


Won/Lost 




Won 


Starting Price 




$1 


Ending Price 




$56 


Our High Bid 




$60 


Time left when 
winning bid was 


placed 


18 minutes 



Some think the youths of the '80s 
spent all their time trying to coax 
their hair to match the coiffure of 
Flock of Seagulls front-man Mike 
Score, but they're heartily mistaken. 
Many of us also kept an eye fixed on 
the San Francisco 49ers each autumn 
Sunday, watching Joe Montana signal 
a touchdown after every pass he com- 
pleted in the end zone. 

This was an impulse purchase in 
every sense of the word. We stum- 
bled across this auction with about 
20 minutes remaining. The descrip- 
tion and photos suggested that the 
card was in mint condition except 
for a small printer's mark in the 
upper-left corner. The centering 
was 50/50 both horizontally and 
vertically, and the corners of the 
card were sharp. There were no dis- 
cernible creases or folds and the 
colors hadn't faded. 

Although there wasn't much time 
remaining in the auction when we 
placed our bid, we still figured that 
we would likely get sniped at the 
end, considering the card had al- 
ready compiled 13 bids from 11 bid- 
ders. We took the lead at $56, with a 
$60 max bid, and hoped that it 
would hold. Though we were a bit 
pessimistic, we ended up winning a 
card that is a formidable cornerstone 
in anyone's collection. 




Some might think $56 is a lot to 
spend on one card, but Beckett 
Magazine (a football card pricing 
magazine) lists this card as $150 in 
mint condition; though admittedly 
our decision to bid on it wasn't 
about getting a good deal so much as 
it was about reconnecting with our 
youth. The condition of the card 
didn't play a huge factor in our deci- 
sion because we don't plan to resell it 
anytime soon. 



Item #4: Spyder Paintball Kit 


Won/Lost 




Lost 


Starting Price 




$1 


Final Price 




$54 


Our High Bid 




$19.96 


Time left when 
winning bid was 


placed 


2 hours 
4 minutes 



Maybe it was the proof-positive 
testimonials of adrenaline junkies, 
or perhaps it was the daily ridicule 
and constant name calling our 
"friends" bombarded us with for 
never playing paintball with them. 
Whatever it was that made us con- 
sider buying paintball gear, we de- 
cided that eBay would be a good 
place to look for a deal. 

Our initial search drummed up 
about 475 paintball kits to sift 
through. The particular kit we bid on 
was being sold by a family who was 
closing down a paintball business. It 
included a gun, a hopper that held 
200 paintballs, a 20-ounce C02 tank, 
and a mask. We decided to jump on 
this auction, which was still in its first 
day. Admittedly, we had no experi- 
ence in pricing paintball equipment, 
so we had little idea of what some- 
thing of this nature might go for. 

More than one paintballer that we 
consulted warned us that regular 
maintenance on paintball guns is a 
must, and the procedures have to be 
done in a very specific and cautious 
manner, so we weren't sure how 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 81 



willing other bidders would be to 
bid on a used gun without knowing 
its maintenance history. We could 
have bought similar introductory 
kits at sporting goods stores for 
about $100, depending on the brand 
and the contents of the package, so 
we hoped our bid would stand given 
that the item was a well-worn kit. 

Well, we were just a tad off, as the 
Spyder paintball kit went for more 
than double the price we bid. After 
doing a bit of post-auction research, 
we found that the $54 winning bid 
is right about the price that similar 
kits are going for on eBay. So while 
paintball may be a great adrenaline 
rush, it is also a rather expensive 
hobby to buy into. 



Item #5: Koss UR-40 Headphones 


Won/Lost 




Won 


Starting Price 




$24.99 


Final Price 




$24.99 


Our High Bid 




$24.99 


Time left when 
winning bid was 


placed 


6 seconds 



These Koss headphones normally 
retail for $39.99, so once you figure in 
the $7 shipping and handling charge, 
it wasn't a great deal, but we still 
saved $8 on brand new equipment. 
While you can find a pair of used 
headphones for five to 10 bucks 
cheaper, we suggest being careful 
when buying used electronic equip- 
ment. The saying, "You get what you 
pay for" certainly holds water with 
eBay auctions. 

We'd used Koss TD/60 head- 
phones before, which feature an 
8-foot cable. This is nice because 
you can plug the headphones into 
the back of your desktop PC and go 
about your daily routine, never 
having to worry about running out 
of cord and getting your headphones 
ripped off of your head. Because the 
UR-40s were more expensive than 




the TD/60s, we assumed that we'd 
get all of the features of the old 
headphones, including the long 
cord, plus a better sound. Unfortu- 
nately, we missed the cable-length 
dscription in the product's specifica- 
tions. The cable was only 4 feet long. 
We decided to employ the sniper 
strategy for this item. Granted, it can 
be downright annoying when you 
lose an auction because someone 
placed a bid with 4 seconds left, but 
this strategy has become a staple for 
the eBay buyer; so if you can't beat 
'em, join 'em. Though it wasn't gar- 
nering much interest from other 
members, we were around the 
computer at the time the 
auction ended, so we de- 
cided to try to save some 
money by throwing a bid in at 
the last minute. We placed the 
only bid on this item with about six 
seconds remaining and won it for 
the starting price. 



Item #6: Logitech Optical Mouse 


Won/Lost 




Lost 


Starting Price 




$3.75 


Final Price 




$4.51 


Our High Bid 




$3.75 


Time left when 
winning bid was 


placed 


9 seconds 



something that didn't 
require so much up- 
keep, so we performed 
a quick search for "op- 
tical mouse" and found 
more than 3,600 poten- 
tial mouse-suitors. 

We weren't looking 
for a mouse that would 
change the world with 
all of its cool features; 
we just wanted some- 
thing that would per- 
form better and require less attention 
than our old mechanical model. The 
Logitech Optical Mouse USB we de- 
cided to bid on was a basic plug-and- 
play mouse, but it had an optical 
tracking system and a scroll wheel: 
both features our old mechanical 
model was sorely lacking. 

The description claimed this mouse 
was gently used but insisted that 
everything was still functional, so we 
coughed up the $3.75 starting bid 
with about four hours left in the auc- 
tion. Admittedly, 
we did jump 
into this 
without 
doing 




We recently decided that cleaning 
the inside of our mouse every month 
was just too much work. We wanted 



much re- 
search, but we 
figured we couldn't go 
wrong with an optical mouse for 
under $4. After going to the Logitech 
Web site (www.logitech.com) we 
found that these mice have a sug- 
gested retail price of $9.99 new. 

Though the Logitech mouse was 
cheap, shipping it would set us back 
$5.25; meaning that if we won the 
auction we'd be spending $8 on a 



82 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Buying 



used mouse instead of about $10 
for a brand-new one. We reached for 
the Rolaids and hoped that someone 
would be kind enough to take this 
auction off our hands. 

For about three hours and 50 min- 
utes, nobody touched it. Finally, 
within the last eight minutes of the 
auction, bidding picked up. The win- 
ning bidder placed the last bid with 
about nine seconds left, and we were 
happily off the hook. 



Item #7: Guitar Stand 


Won/Lost 




Lost 


Starting Price 




$18.50 


Final Price 




$20.50 


Our High Bid 




$20 


Time left when 
winning bid was 


placed 


3 minutes 
3 seconds 



Although we hear they are instru- 
mental for holding up ceilings, we 
learned the hard way that walls make 
for horrible guitar stands. If you set 
your electric guitar up against a wall, 
rest assured that the next time you 
look at your axe, it'll be tipped over 
on the floor. 

We hoped to ease our troubled 
minds by winning a guitar stand. 
The guitar stand we bid on was a 
fairly simple design, just a bunch of 
tubing that you can adjust to fit the 
size of your guitar, but it does the 
trick well enough. 

The body-support tubing is 
coated in rubber to prevent nicks 
and paint chipping. Perhaps the 
nicest feature of this stand was its 
locking clamp. It is basically just 
a clamp that locks around the neck 
of a guitar to prevent it from falling 
out of the stand if you accidentally 
bump it. 

We started with a fairly broad 
search. First we searched for "guitar 
stand" and found a ton of designs 
and prices. The vast majority seemed 
to be going for around $15 to $25, 



with another $6 to $15 tacked on for 
shipping and handling. We noticed 
one stand that featured free ship- 
ping. Although this particular stand 
wasn't the frame we were looking 
for, it did give us a good idea. We 
next searched for guitar stand, free 
shipping. This narrowed our search 
down to about 10 stands. Luckily, 
one of them struck just the right 
chord with us. 

We anteed up a $20 opening bid 
with three days left in the auction. 
We were willing to go a little higher 
if necessary, as there were no ship- 
ping costs involved, but first we 
wanted to see where that 20-spot 
would get us. 

We kept a close eye on this auc- 
tion and checked it a couple times a 
day. We were a little surprised to see 
our build holding strong for three 
days. We checked it one last time 
with about 15 minutes remaining in 
the auction and headed for lunch 
confident that the stand was as good 
as ours. 

Wrong! After we returned from 
our victory lunch, we got the credit 
card ready. After logging on to My 
eBay, we were surprised to find the 
guitar stand missing from the Items 
I Won tab. Confused, and downright 
hurt, we searched My eBay desper- 
ately hoping that some mistake had 
been made, and the item really was 
ours. We located the item and 
searched its bidding history. We 
were sniped again! Another buyer 
got our stand and our free shipping 
by placing a bid with a mere three 
minutes left in the auction. 

Lessons Learned 

In retrospect, we got some good 
deals and we also made some hasty 
decisions. Luckily, we didn't get 
stuck with too many items that we 
didn't want, so we're not drowning 
in Buyer's Remorse. For those of you 
looking for advice when bidding, we 
do suggest that you go with a seller 
that has a lot of experience with the 



buying and selling process. The 
newest seller that we dealt with, in 
terms of feedback left, had 70 feed- 
back messages and all were positive. 
Our most experienced seller had a 
feedback score of more than 16,500. 
Clearly, a very experienced seller. 

It's wise to buy from an experi- 
enced seller, and so is dealing with 
sellers who have high feedback rat- 
ings. Although most of our sellers 
featured a 100% positive feedback 
percentage, we dealt with no sellers 
that had a positive feedback rating of 
less than 99.8%. 

We used PayPal, a popular online 
payment method, to pay for all the 
auctions we'd won. It's simple to set 
up a PayPal account, and we haven't 
encountered a problem with it yet. 
For those of you who are somewhat 
impatient, using PayPal means that 
you don't have to worry about the 
time it takes to send cash, checks, or 
money orders through snail mail. It's 
also secure, as the seller won't see 
your personal financial information. 

We found that sniping requires 
more attention, and therefore more 
time, than simply tossing out the 
highest bid early on and not wor- 
rying about it, but it is the way to go 
if you're looking for the best deal. If 
you're trying to ward off snipers, or 
you know you won't be able to see 
the end of your auction, don't be 
afraid to throw out your highest bid 
early. That's the best way to show 
would-be snipers that you mean 
business, and you're determined to 
get that precious item you simply 
cannot live without. 

Regardless of the item you're 
looking for, don't be afraid to sit 
down and map out a strategy. Know 
how much you're willing to spend 
up front, and then dive in and stick 
with the process. Good luck and 
happy bidding. Qjs] 

by Sam Evans 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 83 



Buyer's Bonanza 

True Tales Of Great Deals & Super Swindles 




Bay is an electronic network that 

e helps people from all over the 
globe do business, but without 
the flesh-and-blood human beings 
that post and bid on millions of auc- 
tions every day, the site is devoid of 
momentum or effect. So people, in 
essence, are what make eBay what it 
is — a technological advance with the 
capacity for tremendous productivity, 
and for both good and evil. 

When you're spending money 
with the help of eBay, you obviously 
hope to deal with conscientious 
sellers, and careful buyers often re- 
port years of problem-free transac- 
tions. Reckless buyers often aren't so 
lucky. We've collected a series of sto- 
ries regarding eBay buying experi- 
ences, and many show that these 
tales have happy endings. Other sto- 



ries display the 
darker side of eBay 
and will serve as 
warnings to users who 
bid carelessly but 
haven't yet been burned by 
crooked sellers look- 
ing for easy targets. 

Diamonds In The Sky 

Buying high-quality jewelry at the 
mall is a difficult proposition for 
people who aren't familiar with the 
lingo, but purchasing gem stones, 
gold, or silver through the Internet is 
a downright risky proposition if you 
aren't an expert. Kim Frost went 
looking for a pair of diamond earrings 
on eBay, but all she found was trouble. 

Frost went to eBay hoping to get a 
deal on earrings for her mother. Her 
plan was to find a dealer who could 
create a unique pair that would 
match a diamond ring her mother al- 
ready owned. She'd gone to a jewelry 
expert who examined her mother's 
ring and then provided a document 
that certified the diamond's clarity 
and color. The expert provided Frost 



with a diamond grade number to en- 
sure the earring designer would have 
no trouble matching the quality and 
look of the ring. 

It didn't take Frost long to find and 
win an auction from a dealer who 
promised to make earrings to the 
proper specifications. The two clari- 
fied the kind of look that Frost 
wanted for the earrings, and the seller 
confirmed that he would get to work. 

A few days later the seller sent a 
message indicating that the original 
deal didn't include the cost of ship- 
ping, and he also said it would be 
necessary to send the earrings via a 
speedy shipping method if Frost 
wanted them in time for the holiday. 
The cost? About $60. Frost haltingly 
agreed to make the payment. 

When Frost finally received the ear- 
rings, she immediately realized that 
she'd been duped. The quality of the 
stones was far inferior to that of her 
mother's ring, with an undesirable 
yellow tint and visible inclusions, or 
blemishes. A gem expert confirmed her 
suspicions, but the seller vehemently 
denied any wrongdoing. Frost filed a 
report with the International Fraud 
Complaint Center. A week later, she re- 
ceived a phone call from an FBI agent 
who promised to look into the matter. 

Frost soon found out that the agent 
contacted the seller, who, under duress 
from the authorities, immediately 
agreed to refund Frost's money, minus 
the PayPal fees he incurred. Frost was 
relieved to get her money back for the 
cost of the earrings, and as this issue 
went to press, she was still hoping to 
get a refund for her PayPal expenses. 

Elvis Cup Adventures 

Frost's experiences show that it's 
possible to be taken by a scam artist 
even if you have a good idea of the 
kinds of products you want to buy. But 
not every buyer has such a bad experi- 
ence, and sometimes, a buying frenzy 
will spawn an entire micro -industry. 

In 1977, 13-year-old Wade Jones 
attended an Elvis Presley concert in 



84 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Charlotte, N.C., and did his best to 
scrounge up a souvenir of his close 
encounter with The King. The best he 
could do was a Styrofoam cup with a 
bit of water at the bottom of it. But it 
wasn't just any old cup. It was the 
very cup that Elvis had been drinking 
from while onstage. 

Jones did his best to seal the cup 
with plastic wrap and a rubber band, 
and then placed his prize in his par- 
ents' freezer. Because the water started 
to evaporate from the cup, he thawed 
the water and poured it into a glass 
vial, which he then permanently sealed 
to protect its contents. The empty cup 
went into a glass display case. 

After seeing off-the-wall eBay auc- 
tions, such as the one for the so-called 
Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich, 
Jones figured his vial of Elvis water 
would sell. He was right. The few tea- 
spoons of water snagged 27 bids, with 
the winning bid settling in at a cool 




Kim Frost tried to buy customized diamond earrings 
through eBay but had to request a refund when the seller 
offered her low-quality gems. 



$455. Unable to part with the cup, 
Jones kept it for himself. 

Those few drops of water sparked 
an Elvis Cup-related buying frenzy. 
Buyers couldn't get enough of the 
Elvis Cup and the lore surrounding it, 
so they contacted Jones with offers to 
purchase the cup. He refused, but he 
decided to auction off appearances of 
the cup. Any winning buyer willing to 
pay for Jones's travel expenses could 
see the cup in person. 



Sure enough, one company decid- 
ed to ante up more than $300 for an 
appearance of the Elvis cup as part 
of a publicity stunt. The company, 
called Nutballz (www.nutballz.com), 
which makes healthy snack cookies, 
paid for Jones and his wife to fly to 
Boulder, Colo, to be the star guests 
at a fundraiser for the Center for 
Celiac Research. 

That wasn't the end of the Elvis 
Cup ruckus, because more and more 
buyers wanted a piece of Elvis history. 
Jones then took a picture of the cup, 
autographed the photo, and then 
started an auction to see who would 
pay to get their hands on the print. 
One lucky buyer snagged the signed 
"tour photo" for about $15. You can 
follow the adventures of the Elvis Cup 
at www.elviscup.com, created just for 
related bits of memorabilia. 

Santa's Magic 

eBay's search engine 
might make a lot of Elvis 
memorabilia dreams come 
true, but sometimes, it's 
the eBay community that 
comes to the rescue. Before 
Christmas 2003, Christie 
Caldwell's 6-year-old son 
wrote to Santa and told 
him that all he wanted for 
Christmas were the Aaragon 
and Gandalf the White ac- 
tion figures from the "Lord 
of the Rings" movies. 

Unfortunately, the im- 

mense popularity of the 

films made it nearly im- 
possible to find the toys, and even 
when Caldwell searched every store 
within 100 miles of her home, as well 
as online, she could not find the fig- 
ures her son wanted. About two 
weeks before Christmas, Caldwell 
gave up, sat her son down, and ex- 
plained that his requested gifts were 
impossible to locate. She also tried to 
gently explain that Santa Claus prob- 
ably wouldn't be able to bring him 
the action figures, either. When she 



suggested that he consider other gift 
ideas, he simply said, "Don't worry 
mom, Santa is magic. He has elves. 
They'll just make Aaragon and Gan- 
dalf the White for me." 

Caldwell was taken aback and de- 
cided to try eBay in her search for the 
toys, but she didn't find a single auc- 
tion for the items she needed. She 
posted a message about the problem 
on the Auction Listing Board at eBay, 
fishing for advice on how to break the 
bad news to her son on Christmas 
morning. Instead of advice, Caldwell 
received supportive messages from 
other users who promised to help her 
find the toys. Several people put those 
items on their shopping lists and went 
in search of them. 

Finally, an eBay user found both 
toys tucked away in an online store. 
Caldwell bought the figures right 
away, and on Christmas morning, her 
son said, "See Mom? I told you Santa 
would bring them." 

Camera Conniptions 

Our next eBay story doesn't have 
a clear-cut, storybook ending. Bill 
Wilcox is a professional photographer 
who decided to invest in a pro-level 
Canon camera — a $1,900 piece of 
equipment that he found easily on 
eBay. After winning the auction, 
Wilcox immediately paid the seller 
through his PayPal account and asked 
the seller to ship the camera to his 
work address. 

After a few days of silence from the 
seller, Wilcox decided to send another 
message inquiring about shipment 
details. The seller immediately replied 
and indicated that his wife was having 
trouble with her pregnancy and that 
the doctors said there was a chance 
they could lose the baby; he'd been 
spending his time at the hospital and 
had no time to ship the camera. The 
next day, he noticed that the seller 
had received a negative feedback score 
and then made his feedback com- 
ments private, which meant that 
Wilcox couldn't read the negative 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 85 



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Bill Willcox tried to buy an expensive Canon camera through eBay but 
got taken by a crooked seller. He was forced to try and reclaim his 
money through small claims court. 



comment to find out what happened 
with the soured deal. He was sure he'd 
been suckered. He tried calling the 
seller, but ominously, the phone 
number listed in the seller's profile 
belonged to someone else. 

Because the seller had made his 
feedback private, there was no way for 
Wilcox to check for the names of 
other buyers who might've also been 
scammed. He filed complaints with 
eBay and PayPal and received auto- 
mated responses that said he would 
have to wait a few days before any ac- 
tion would occur. 

In the meantime, Wilcox did some 
sleuth work on his own, hoping to 
track down the seller, using only a 
potentially false name, an incorrect 
phone number, and no address other 
than the city of Tempe, Ariz. With 
some persistence, Wilcox eventually 
found the same seller offering anoth- 
er product on eBay, so he contacted 
the auction winner and managed to 
obtain legitimate information on 
the seller. Wilcox alerted the buyer 
about the seller's untrustworthiness, 
and together, they pieced together 
enough information to pinpoint the 
seller's apartment. 

Wilcox discussed his problem 
with law enforcement personnel in 
the seller's jurisdiction. The police 



questioned the seller about the 
auction and he claimed that he 
had already used the $1,900 to pay 
bills, but that because Wilcox had 
purchased transaction insurance 
through PayPal, he hadn't really lost 
any money. Because of this, Wilcox 
was forced to go through a small 
claims court to have any chance of 
getting his money back. At the time 
this story went to press, Wilcox was 
still waiting to receive his refund. 

Cool Deal Gone Wrong 

Not all problematic eBay transac- 
tions end up costing buyers a lot of 
money. Sometimes better luck will 
swing a buyer's way if he or she sticks 
out tough times. 

John Journell started using eBay 
several years ago and quickly turned 
to the site as a way to help supple- 
ment his income. He decided to look 
for major appliances that he could 
buy and then resell at a higher price 
when he ran into just the auction he 
was looking for. One seller was of- 
floading a large quantity of window 
air conditioners at a low price, and 
Journell figured this was just the 
opportunity he wanted. 

He watched the auction for a few 
days and made sure he placed a bid 



high enough to meet the reserve price. 
When the auction finally ended, 
Journell won 25 window air condi- 
tioners, at a total price of $130, or 
only about $5 per unit. Journell said 
he knew that in most situations, the 
price of these appliances would've in- 
dicated a mistake of some sort on the 
part of the seller. However, he was fa- 
miliar with this seller and knew that 
the person had decided to liquidate 
a lot of inventory, so he figured the 
price was legitimate. 

After he won the auction, Journell 
paid for a moving truck so that he'd 
have a way to transport the window 
units into his possession. That was 
when the seller indicated that he 
wouldn't let Journell have the air con- 
ditioners at the established price. In 
an effort to persuade the seller to 
follow through on the agreement, 
Journell filed a Non-Perfoming Seller 
complaint with eBay, but because the 
seller pleaded a price entry error, the 
site was unable to assist him. 

Journell has had better luck with 
other auctions. At the same time as 
the air conditioner fiasco, Journell 
bid on a 1994 Ford Escort so that he'd 
have an inexpensive used car with 
which to tinker. 

He placed a bid on the car and 
contacted the seller for some basic 



86 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Buying 



information. The seller responded 
with an unusual and urgent request. 
She wanted Journell to buy the car 
before the eBay auction ended be- 
cause she and her family were 
moving to Texas and needed to wrap 
up issues with their possessions as 
soon as possible; she even indicated 
that she might be able to part with 
the car for less than the starting bid 
($875) she'd placed on eBay. 

Journell decided to drive to the sell- 
er's house to check out the condition of 
the car. He was immediately sure he 
wanted the vehicle, so he offered $500 
to take the car off of the seller's hands. 
She agreed, and Journell drove home 
with the car on the same 
day, having used his eBay 
contact to make a non-eBay 
purchase. eBay frowns upon 
this kind of activity, claim- 
ing that transactions without 
eBay's help are at risk of 
fraud (and knowing that its 
coffers won't get a cut of 
profit from such deals), but 
in this case, Journell scored 
just the car he wanted at a 
very low price. 



time." Alberty said she was in disbe- 
lief when she searched for and found 
a purse just like her mother's, right 
on eBay. 

"When I opened the box it came 
in, it brought a lot of memories to 
mind, and tears to my eyes. The last 
time I used the purse was in 
Christmas 2003 when my boyfriend 
and I took my sister to dinner at a 
fancy restaurant. Her face lit up when 
she saw it, because she remembered 
the purse instantly. We spent time 
reminiscing about my mom and 
growing up together." 

More history. eBay's sprawling ac- 
cess to all kinds of antiquities is good 



Rarities On Parade 

Buyer Judith Alberty 
said that she thinks eBay's 
biggest strength is its 
ability to connect buyers 
with merchandise that 
they'd otherwise never be 
able to find. Alberty often uses 
eBay's search engine to locate hard- 
to-find antiques, and sometimes, 
those goods strike close to the heart. 

"When I was growing up in the 
1950's, my mother had a purse I never 
forgot. It had a Lucite tortoise-shell 
top and handle and was made of 
gold-colored metal strips on the 
bottom." Alberty loved the purse, and 
she liked how glamorous her mother 
looked when she carried it. 

"Money was tight in our home, so 
I know how much she valued that 
purse, which was very chic at the 




Wade Jones auctioned a few teaspoons of water from an Elvis concert 
for nearly $500. However, he held onto the cup that he swears Elvis 
was drinking from and created this Web site to promote his other 
Elvis-related auctions. 



for conjuring nostalgia, and it's also a 
tremendous tool for people looking to 
explore their roots. 

Matt Conn says, "I use eBay to 
search for and find items related to 
my ancestors. I buy antique and vin- 
tage postcards to frame and display in 
my home." So far, the collection of 
postcards and old photos goes back 
three generations and shows where 
Conn's ancestors lived and worked. 

"It's a great visual way for my three 
kids to see our family's history, and 
it's also something I can hand down 
to future generations. Cards from the 



same era show where my parents or 
grandparents went to school, where 
they worked, even the Civil War 
battle sites where they died." 

Conn displays his finds in the 
family room, and the initial reactions 
he gets from people who visit his 
house are mixed. "It's not your typical 
decor for a family room, but what 
better place [to display these items]? 
Once I explain it to our guests, they 
are really curious about what each 
card represents and about the pho- 
tographs of the people on our walls." 

The Reality Of eBay 

No matter what eBay's 
purpose is in your life, in 
the end, the site is a reflec- 
tion of the human condi- 
tion. Every day there are 
auctions that show the 
range of human emotion 
and action, all right there 
on a glowing screen in your 
computer room. What 
you'll see are acts of gen- 
erosity, desperation, kind- 
ness, sympathy, and, of 
course, slightly demented 
human behavior. In spite 
of the chaos that envelopes 
some auctions and the il- 
legal behavior that ruins 
the online auction experi- 
ence for others, eBay is a 
complex and often benefi- 
cial Web tool that helps 
users find incredible deals on prod- 
ucts and services. 

Remember some of the stories you 
read as you get into the act of buying 
through online auctions. You can use 
these tales as a lesson for yourself and 
for your friends. Research every item 
you buy, always check shipping and 
payment details before you bid, and 
check every seller's feedback from 
previous buyers. Follow these precau- 
tions and your own eBay experiences 
will be mostly positive. S3 

by Nathan Chandler 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 87 



The Smart ShoDDer 




Use eBay's Buyer's Tools To Get What You 
Want — Fast 



your list of watched items. There's also 
a section for Items I'm Bidding On 
along with a list of won and lost auc- 
tions. Click the Customize Summary 
link in the upper- right portion of the 
screen to add and remove My eBay sec- 
tions. For example, you can view feed- 
back you've received from other eBay 
users or track older auctions. 

eBay Anywhere Wireless 

It's important to keep close track of 
an auction, especially when another 
bidder keeps outbidding you. Yet, you 
may not be able to sit at the computer 
all day refreshing the screen, waiting 
for the auction to end. eBay offers 
several notification aids to keep you 
informed about the status of auctions 
you're bidding on. One of the most 
helpful notifications works with your 
PDA (person digital assistant) or cell 
phone. Anywhere Wireless, which we 
cover in more detail in "Deals On 
Wheels" on page 169, sends a message 
to your mobile gad- 
get, informing you 
when there is a new 
high bid. To use it, 
go to www.ebay.com 
and click My eBay, 
then click the eBay 
Preferences link on 
the left-hand col- 
umn. Next to Notifi- 
cation Preferences, 
click View/Change, 
and then click Add 
Or Change Notifi- 
cation Services. Next 
to the eBay Wireless 
Email option, click 
Subscribe. Click the 



To help you bid faster and win 
more auctions, we're providing 
some tips for those who wants to 
learn more about eBay's buying tools. 
Buying tools can help you track auc- 
tions, alert you to a new high bid, or 
keep you informed about the most 
popular auctions. These tips are for 
people who already know the basics of 
searching for an item and how to find 
items similar to those they want to buy. 
We cover eBay searches in "Treasure 
Hunt" on Page 55 and auction pay- 
ment options in "How To Pay For 
Items On eBay" on Page 72. 

My eBay 

Let's start with the My eBay page. At 
the eBay home page, click the My eBay 
link and log in. This is where you can 
find most of eBay's buying tools. At the 
top of the screen, you'll see Buying 
Reminders, which will alert you if 
you've been outbid on an auction. 
Scroll down to see the Items I'm 
Watching section. Every auction has a 
Watch This Item link in the upper- 
right portion of that auction's main 
page. Click the link to add an item to 



option to send email alerts and type 
in the email address for your cell 
phone or PDA. Click Save Changes. 

eBay Pulse 

One of the best tricks for eBay bid- 
ders is to track past auctions to see the 
high bid on items you want to buy. 
For example, if a Nikon digital camera 
has been selling for about $500 on 
eBay, then bids on a similar item will 
probably sell for a similar amount. 
You can view the most popular auc- 
tions, but Pulse has even more ad- 
vanced uses. For example, you can see 
the most popular searches performed 
by other eBay users. So, if thousands 
of users have searched for a Nikon 
Dlx camera but not that Canon EOS 
model you want, you may win the 
auction for the Canon camera at a 
more reasonable price. Pulse is great 
for searching for popular items and 
tracking high bids. 

Tracking past auctions, using mobile 
phone and PDA notifications, and edu- 
cating yourself about the going rates for 
popular items can help you win more 
auctions and pay less for items you've al- 
ways wanted, [rs] 

by John Brandon 




Receive an email notification on your cell phone when you have 
lost the high bid. 



88 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Follow The Rules 
For Sales 




Keep Your Customers Happy By Following 
eBay's Policies 




Bay puts more than a little 

e effort into maintaining a 
straightforward, easy-to-use 
Web site, which means that 
you can avoid most prob- 
lems by using common sense (don't list 
an item as a joke, for example). But 
complications can crop up in any fi- 
nancial transaction, so eBay has a long 
list of policies that help users sell and 
buy smoothly. If you understand eBay's 
policies, you'll probably side-step issues 
that might damage a deal and — more 
importantly — your Feedback Rating. 

The Basics 

Although you'll probably focus more 
on successfully completing your first 
listing than on pushing the boundaries 



of eBay's advertising policies, you 
should be aware of some basic rules 
when you first click that Sell tab. 

HTML and JavaScript. If you've cre- 
ated Web sites before, you may want to 
use one of these languages to spice up 
your listing. Feel free to include basic 
formatting instructions, but stay away 
from instructions that might affect a 
reader's computer. eBay prohibits sev- 
eral instructions, including those that 
read cookies or put them on other 
computers, create pop-up ads, or put 
information on the reader's hard drive. 

eBay recognizes that you may not 
know certain HTML (Hypertext 
Markup Language) or JavaScript in- 
structions are prohibited, so eBay 
simply blocks them. If you try to put 
prohibited instructions in your listing, 



eBay won't complete the Sell Your Item 
process and will display a Disallowed 
JavaScript/HTML Syntax message. 

Links policy. Although eBay listings 
offer plenty of space, you may find that 
you want to link to sources outside of 
eBay when you describe your item. 
eBay permits links, but it has several 
rules, exceptions, and limitations. For 
starters, you can link to another Web 
site that describes the item, provided 
that the Web site is not an online store 
(unless it's your eBay store, of course). 
However, you can link to a Web page 
that describes your item and has links 
to Web sites that sell items. You can 
provide only one link to an item de- 
scription per item listing. 

You can also link to photos or photo 
galleries (here you can provide multiple 
links). As with the Web sites that host 
item descriptions, these outside (of 
eBay) Web pages can include links to 
online stores. And as before, you can't 
link directly to online stores from your 
eBay listing. You can link to your 
About Me page, but once you complete 
the page, eBay automatically adds an 
About Me icon to each listing. The icon 
links directly to your About Me page. 

Feel free to put a link to your email 
address in your listing, but don't link 
to a non-eBay Web page that displays 
your Terms And Conditions unless 
you already include certain informa- 
tion on your eBay listing, including 
any information about shipping, types 
of taxes or handling charges, when 
you expect payment, and types of pay- 
ment that you accept. It's important to 
note that eBay prohibits users from 
linking to non-eBay Web sites from 
this Terms And Conditions page. 

No item listings. If you've hatched a 
great scheme to expound your political 
views by posting bogus listings that in- 
stead display your theories, welcome to 
the club — of former eBay users, that is. 
Your listing must sell any items that 
are in your listing's title. eBay also pro- 
hibits users from marketing items that 
potential buyers can't verify, so scrap 
those plans to sell ghosts. eBay might 
not suspend your account for your 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 89 



Selling 



first offense (it can), 
but don't expect to 
post gag listings with- 
out consequence. eBay 
can remove your Pow- 
erSeller ranking (if you 
have it) and cancel a 
listing without cred- 
iting your eBay fees. 

Profanity. If eBay 
spots profanity in your 
listing or in your 
About Me section, it 
will remove your list- 
ing from the Web site 
right away. Of course, 
some item titles in- 
clude profane words. 
If you plan to sell CDs 
or other items that 
sport inappropriate ti- 
tles, you'll need to 
learn the art of Blurb- 
ing. eBay describes 
Blurbing as replacing 
all but the first letter of 

an inappropriate word 

with asterisks. However, eBay allows 
Blurbing in titles only, not in other 
listing content. Keep in mind that eBay 
also doesn't permit vulgar language 
and that eBay will determine what 
words fall into that category. So keep it 
clean and you'll stay in the ring. 



Advertise Right 

Once you're an old eBay pro, you'll 
probably look back and laugh at your 
first listing, a modest note that lacked 
HTML or any of eBay's advanced fea- 
tures. After you learn all the tricks of 
the eBay advertising trade, your listings 
will sparkle, your pictures will leap out 
at potential buyers, and your titles will 
be works of eBay item description art. 
Here are a few glitches to watch out for 
on your way to selling success. 

Choice listings. Choice listings let 
the winning bidder choose items or 
item types. eBay prohibits most choice 
listings (for example, you can't auction 
a book and then let the buyer choose a 
book from several titles), but if you 





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Once you've browsed eBay's seller 
policies, click Sell at the top of the 
main page and then click The 
Perfect Listing to see an example of 
a listing that meets all guidelines 
and policies. 



have a multiple-item 
auction listing (note 
that eBay prohibits 
choices in single- item 
listings), you can let 
winners choose colors 
(but not sizes) of items 
if the items are other- 
wise identical. Keep in 
mind, however, that 
you must have the 
items that appear in 
each of your listing: If 
you have two red 
sweaters but only four 
green, you may only 
auction two sweaters 
in that listing. If you 
created six listings and 
three or more winning 
bidders selected the 
red sweater, you 
wouldn't have enough 
sweaters to complete 
the transaction. eBay 
prohibits auctions in 

which the seller does 

not have enough items to cover this 
type of situation. And besides, your 
fourth-grader will laugh at you. 

Giveaways, raffles, and prizes. Don't 
create listings that hawk giveaways, 
raffles, or prizes, but feel free to toss 
bonus items into your listings. eBay 
permits bonuses as long as they affect 
the value of the sale and as long as you 
set specific rules for the bonus. If you 
breach the rules, of course, eBay will 
simply cancel your auction. The 
Bonuses And Prizes policy page (click 
Policies on the main page and then 
click Listing Policies, Bonuses And 
Prizes) points out that you can't offer a 
bonus item unless your listing clearly 
identifies the event that triggers the 
bonus (for example, if the bid price for 
the listing's main item reaches a cer- 
tain point). For example, your book 
listing might indicate that if the bid- 
ding exceeds $15, you will add a book 
light to the package. 

Keyword spamming. As with listing 
titles, you can include keywords in 
your listing description — in fact you'll 



have to use potential keywords in most 
cases. For example, if you list a PC, 
you'll probably mention that it's a PC 
in your listing description. eBay doesn't 
prohibit users from adding keywords 
to a description, but it prohibits key- 
word spamming — intentionally stuff- 
ing your item description (or title) with 
tons of keywords (such as sentences 
that contain only keywords, for ex- 
ample). Also, don't spam keywords for 
other listings: If you list a PC, don't in- 
clude a sentence that mentions your 
notebook listing and has a half-dozen 
notebook keywords (notebook, laptop, 
portable PC, mobile PC, for example). 

Finally, don't abuse HTML to spam 
keywords. eBay prohibits users from 
hiding keyword spamming via HTML 
(which lets you prevent users from 
seeing some text). 

Misleading titles. When potential 
buyers type keywords into the eBay 
search engine, it searches listing titles 
and descriptions but displays only item 
titles, which means that buyers prob- 
ably won't bother to read your item's 
description unless they see what they're 
looking for in your item's title. 
Obviously, some products are more 
eye-catching than others-chances are, if 
you add "Prada Purse" to your toaster's 
listing title, more users will view your 
listing than any other toaster listing. 
eBay prevents sellers from using this 
unfair marketing tactic by prohibiting 
all misleading titles; the title must indi- 
cate only the item that is listed (it can't 
include brand names other than the 
item's brand name). However, if the 
listing includes an item that is only 
compatible with certain brand names 
(an electronic accessory that is compat- 
ible only with Apple's digital music de- 
vices, for example), you can add the 
compatible brand names to the title. 
This rule doesn't include items that are 
compatible with any brand, so don't 
list brand names if your item is a uni- 
versal monitor cover, for example. 

eBay also prohibits certain words 
and types of language. Don't put 
"banned," "outlawed," "illegal," "pro- 
hibited," email or Web site addresses, 



90 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



phone numbers, or profanity in titles. 
eBay sanctions users who breach this 
rule by canceling the auction. 

Shill bidding. Never bid (or let a 
friend place false bids) on an item to 
artificially inflate the price. eBay sanc- 
tions users who engage in this practice, 
thanks to sellers who abused shill bid- 
ding when eBay launched (early on, 
eBay sellers shill bid to essentially with- 
draw auctions if they believed the auc- 
tion wouldn't close at an appropriate 
price). That said, you can stop auctions 
if you no longer want to sell the item by 
simply canceling all of the bids. Also, 
remember that you can use eBay's 
Reserve Price feature, which lets you set 
a price ceiling the bids must breach. 

Keep in mind that some eBayers 
buy only from a few sellers. If you 
think someone is shill bidding be- 
cause they bid too often for a seller's 
products, contact eBay, but think 
twice about accosting the potential 



shiller yourself; you may have simply 
found a loyal customer. Also, don't be 
surprised if eBay doesn't sanction a 
true shiller right away; eBay may warn 
first offenders as they might not know 
about the shill bidding policy. 

Item-Specific Policies 

Although most of eBay's seller poli- 
cies apply to all sellers, several policies 
target sellers of specific goods: namely, 
coins, jewelry/precious metals, and 
stamps. We cover many of these rules, 
but sellers should consult eBay policy 
pages and applicable counterfeit laws 
before auctioning their goods via eBay. 
You can find links to the information 
about counterfeit laws by visiting the 
main page, clicking Policies, Listing 
Policies, and then clicking Selling 
Coins or Selling Stamps. 

Selling coins. If you read nothing 
else before listing your hard-won coin 



(or paper money) collection, take a 
look at the Code Of Conduct For 
Selling Coins & Paper Money (visit the 
main page and then click Policies, 
Listing Policies, Selling Coins, and 
Code Of Conduct For Selling Coins & 
Paper Money). eBay developed the 
guidelines with the ANA (American 
Numismatic Association) to prevent 
scams. eBay refers to the Code Of 
Conduct as guidelines, but treat it as a 
list of policies rather than suggestions: 
eBay will sanction users who breach 
the guidelines and may contact law en- 
forcement officials if eBay suspects that 
you are intentionally defrauding users. 
eBay prohibits users from know- 
ingly using misleading sales tactics or 
selling counterfeit money, of course, 
but it won't give you a break for un- 
knowingly breaking these rules. If the 
ANA determines that your listing de- 
scription doesn't match your mer- 
chandise, you must refund the sale to 



e(Bay)tiquette 



^ Bay has a wealth of written poli- 
wcies that help would-be sellers 
avoid conflicts with other eBayers, 
eBay, and the law, but the Policies sec- 
tion lacks some unwritten rules that 
can smooth rough transactions. Over 
time, eBay users developed unofficial 
selling and buying guidelines. Keep 
this selling etiquette in mind when 
the auction ends. 

Communicate. Keep in mind that 
the winning bidder is a customer: If 
you fail to communicate clearly, the 
transaction may stall. Many sellers 
contact the buyer right after the auc- 
tion ends to make sure the buyer un- 
derstands the payment options and 
reassure the bidder that the seller in- 
tends to ship the item. Sellers also use 
this opportunity to remind the buyer 
of the shipping method and to make 
certain the buyer is getting the item 
she expects — if she accidentally bid 
on a mobile phone that isn't compat- 
ible with her service provider, for 



example, you can refund the money 
before you ship the item. Many sellers 
also contact the buyer again when 
they receive payment and to give the 
buyer a tracking number for the item. 

Leave feedback. Both buyers and 
sellers benefit from feedback as it lets 
strangers quickly assess their trustwor- 
thiness. Although eBay won't force you 
to leave feedback, you'll find that 
eBayers will complain loudly (to you 
and potentially to other eBayers) if you 
fail to leave feedback, especially if they 
have already left feedback for you. 

When should you leave feedback? 
Many eBayers agree that the seller 
should leave feedback first, but you'll 
find that fewer sellers agree about the 
timing. Some sellers leave feedback as 
soon as the buyer pays for the item; 
others wait until the buyer receives the 
item and indicates that it is satisfac- 
tory. Keep in mind that your chance to 
leave feedback is both leverage and re- 
sponsibility; it's a permanent record 



that can positively or negatively im- 
pact the eBayer's future transactions. If 
you leave positive feedback before you 
complete the transaction, you may 
find that the buyer leaves negative 
feedback right away when the deal 
goes south. If you wait and experience 
problems during the transaction (the 
buyer claims that the item arrived 
damaged, for example), the buyer may 
be more likely to contact you (in 
which case you might solve the 
problem amicably) before posting per- 
manent negative comments. 

Pack it up. You don't need to empty 
your local supply store of bubble wrap 
when you ship those hiking boots, but 
err on the side of safety if you're wrap- 
ping a particularly fragile item. If a 
buyer receives a poorly wrapped, dam- 
aged item, that person is more likely to 
pound out some unpleasant feedback 
than if a well-packed box simply failed 
to protect the item from rough 
package handlers. I 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 91 



Selling 



the buyer. If you're not sure 
whether your collection is gen- 
uine, click Authentication And 
Grading Services on the Code Of 
Conduct page to find a list of ser- 
vices. This list also includes ser- 
vices that authenticate books and 
stamps. Also, don't sell items if 
someone is challenging your own- 
ership of the items. 

If you want to sell coin or paper 
money reproductions, your listing 
must meet three tests: The listing 
shouldn't breach copyright laws 
and the listed item must clearly be 
a reproduction (in fact, the word 
"Copy" or "Reproduction" must 
be stamped into the money). Also, 
you must point out in both the 
listing title and description that 
the item is a reproduction. 

eBay also offers a few basic 
guidelines which are not part of the 
Code Of Conduct. In particular, eBay 
suggests that you use a picture of the 
item you're selling (don't use a picture 
of a different item), make sure your 
listing indicates whether you are cer- 
tain about the item's authenticity, and 
include all important details about the 
condition in the listing description. 

Selling jewelry and precious metals. 
eBay expects all sellers to carefully de- 
scribe their items when creating listing 
titles and descriptions but usually lets 
users choose their own words. How- 
ever, the auction venue departs from 
this philosophy when dealing with jew- 
elry sales — if you plan to sell any form 
of jewelry, you'll need to know and 
follow eBay's description policies. 

Never list nonsolid gold items in 
solid gold categories. If you're not fa- 
miliar with industry- standard term ab- 
breviations, you'll need to lean more 
about them before you list any gold 
items. For example, you'll need to use 
GF to indicate gold-filled items and 
WG or KW to indicate white gold 
when writing your listing's title. You 
can use the full terms in the descrip- 
tion, but keep in mind that eBay has 
rules for some of these terms: If your 
item is gold-plated, you must use that 



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Don't list tons of likely search terms. Also, avoid search terms 
(keywords) that don't describe your item. 

term always; don't refer to the item as 
simply "gold." Also, if your item's gold 
plating isn't equal to or more than lOkt 
gold, don't use the terms "gold-electro- 
plate," "gold-filled," "gold overlay," or 
"rolled-gold." If you plan to use the 
term "vermeil," you must always use 
"gold vermeil" instead of "gold." Also, 
use the term only if at least 2.5 microns 
of lOkt or purer gold covers all sur- 
faces of the sterling silver item. 

Diamond and gemstone sellers also 
follow a long list of terminology rules. 
For example, if you list loose beads and 
want to use gemstone terms in your 
description, you must add the word 
"color" or a word that describes the 
bead's material and you must also use 
the word bead. By using these terms, 
you'll clearly indicate that you're 
selling beads and not actual gemstones. 
If you're not sure what materials your 
bead (or other item) consists of, list 
the item in the Other Items category. 

Refer to the Selling Jewelry And 
Precious Metals page (click Policies on 
the main page and then click Listing 
Policies For Sellers, Selling Jewelry And 
Precious Metals) before using the 
word "diamond" in any listing. Sellers 
must make sure their items meet sev- 
eral requirements before using this 



term. For example, sellers who list 
Cubic Zirconium must put the 
word "imitation" or "simulated" 
directly before or after the word 
"diamond." Sellers must also use 
these terms when describing other 
imitation diamonds (they must 
also include words that describe 
the item's material). If you want to 
sell an item that is not a natural 
diamond but has an identical min- 
eral composition, you can choose 
from eight terms: "created," "lab- 
created," "laboratory-created," 
"man-made," "manufactured," or 
"(manufacturer's name) -created." 
As with other terms that describe 
imitation diamonds, you must put 
the term directly before or after 
the word "diamond," in both the 
_ description and the item title. 

Selling stamps. As with jewelry 
and coins, eBay sanctions sellers who 
create unfair stamp auctions. It pro- 
hibits sellers from posting inaccurate 
descriptions or from knowingly mis- 
leading potential buyers about any as- 
pect of the listed item, including its 
authenticity and physical condition. 
The Selling Stamps policy page (click 
Policies on the main page, and then 
click Listing Policies For Sellers, Selling 
Stamps) lists some general guidelines, 
but eBay also enforces the APS' 
(American Philatelic Society's) special 
eBay Code Of Conduct (www.stamps 
.org/ebay/ebay_code.htm). The Code 
Of Conduct prohibits users from 
selling items they may not own and 
from making misleading statements. 
We were glad to see that the Code dis- 
cusses the term "As Is," which fre- 
quently appears on eBay listings. You 
can't use As Is to describe a stamp's au- 
thenticity, but you can use its condi- 
tion, provided you don't use the term 
to cover any problems that you don't 
describe in your listing. The APS lets 
eBay users sell imitation stamps as long 
as sellers indicate that the item isn't au- 
thentic in the description, doesn't 
breach any laws by selling the item, and 
provided that it has an irremovable 
label that marks it as an imitation. 



92 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



A/lore Information 


eBay's Listing Policies cover most items, but some item categories require special attention. Check out 
these guides and policies before diving into your first sale 


Information Where To Go (From Main Page) 


Category Changes 


eBay regularly updates its product sections, so make sure you're listing your 
items in the appropriate categories. Click the Sell tab and then click Seller 
Central at the bottom of the page. Click News & Updates under 
Choose A Topic and click Category Changes. 


Policy (Rules For Sellers) 


Not sure if your sales technique is legit? Check here. Click Policies and then 
Rules For Sellers. 


Policy (Restricted Items) 


Sorry, you can't sell your pets on eBay. Click Policies and Prohibited And 
Restricted Items to view rules about specific items. 


Policy (Coins) 


Don't let your money go to waste. Click Policies at the bottom of the page and 
then click Listing Policies under Rules For Sellers. Finally, click Selling Coins. 


Policy (Jewelry) 


Whether you're selling valuable gems or pretty beads, you'll need to write your 
item description carefully. Click Policies at the bottom of the page and click 
Listing Policies under Rules For Sellers. Finally, click Selling Jewelry And Precious 
Metals. 


Policy (Stamps) 


Ready to part with your collection? Click Policies at the bottom of the page 
and then click Listing Policies under Rules For Sellers. Finally, click Selling Stamps. 


Seller Guide (Autos) 


That's right, you can even auction your ride. Click Cars, Parts & Vehicles, and 
How To Buy & Sell On eBay Motors. Next, click Selling under the appropriate 
vehicle (Boats, Passenger Vehicles, Powersports, Motorcycles). 


Seller Guide (Clothing) 


Squeeze a little more mileage from those old sneakers by listing them on eBay. 
Click Clothing, Shoes & Accessories, and Selling Clothing. 


Seller Guide (Collectibles) 


Ready to sell your sword collection? Click Collectibles and Selling Collectibles. 
Next, click Detailed Sub-Category Guides. 


Seller Guide (Crafts) 


Grab your corks, plaster, and other craft items and head to the computer. 
Click Crafts and Selling Crafts. 


Seller Guide (Health & Beauty) 


If you make soap, you may want to sell it here instead of in the Crafts section. 
Click Health & Beauty and then Selling Health & Beauty. 


Seller Guide (Home) 


eBay prohibits most plant sales, but this section has plenty of other indoor and 
outdoor decorations. Click Home & Garden and Selling Home & Garden. 


Seller Guide (Tickets) 


Forget standing on the street. Click Tickets and then How To Sell Tickets. 


Seller Guide (Travel) 


Have a time-share? Click Travel and Selling Travel Items. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 93 



Selling 



As with its other policies, eBay's 
Selling Stamps guidelines bundle 
common-sense concepts: Include only 
pictures of the listing's item, add a de- 
tailed description to your listing, and 
be sure to point out any flaws or other 
problems. If your item includes mul- 
tiple stamps, be sure to identify every 
stamp. eBay sanctions users who disre- 
gard the guidelines and Code Of 
Conduct. Depending on the infraction, 
eBay may simply cancel a listing and 
actually refund the seller's listing fees, 
or it may suspend a user's account and 
contact the authorities. 

General Seller Policies 

Both buyers and sellers have feed- 
back rankings that make up eBay's 
reputation system. Although eBay may 
not catch you every time you breach a 
policy, you can bet that the user at- 
tempting to buy from you will leave 
negative feedback. We're not sug- 
gesting that you might try to break 
eBay's policies, but if you don't read 
the policies, you won't know when you 
break them. Keep the policies in mind 
as you build your eBay reputation. 

Cell phone service contracts. eBay 
lets sellers market mobile phone ser- 
vice contracts, but it places several re- 
strictions on the seller to make sure 
the buyer doesn't mistakenly purchase 
a contract or phone that he can't use 
(for example, a contract that doesn't 
include the buyer's location). Keep in 
mind that only authorized resellers 
can sell service contracts on eBay. 

If you are a reseller, make sure you 
put the listing in the Cell Phones cate- 
gory's Activation Required section. 
You should include regions, states, and 
ZIP codes that the service covers. 
You'll also need to include certain text 
(in your listing) that eBay provides via 
its Cell Phone Service Contracts policy 
(see pages.ebay.com/help/policies/ 
cellphone-services.html). If you reject 
a buyer, you'll need to refund her 
money within 10 days of payment. 

Circumventing fees. eBay doesn't 
tolerate users who try to avoid paying 



its fees. Although you wouldn't pur- 
posely sidestep eBay fees, you could 
easily breach this rule by mistake. 
Catalogs, for example, breach the fee 
circumvention policy. eBay prohibits 
most catalogs because people could use 
eBay listings to promote their own 
non-eBay businesses and list multiple 
items without paying standard fees. 
You can sell old catalogs (catalogs from 
which users can no longer buy prod- 
ucts) as collectibles, but you may not 
create long lists of the brands that are 
in the catalog, and you can't use cata- 
logs as bonus items. That said, you can 
link to non-eBay Web sites that better 
describe the catalogs — as long as you 
abide by the standard Links Policy. 



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As a seller, you'll quickly find that your 
Feedback Rating helps buyers forecast their 
buying experience and motivates you to treat 
your customers courteously during transac- 
tion glitches. The star sums up your Rating, 
but customers can also leave comments. 

eBay prohibits listings that involve 
additional fees, which means that you 
can't list an item that is beneficial 
only after the buyer purchases some- 
thing else, such as a coupon for one 
item that takes effect only when the 
buyer purchases an additional item. 

Never post messages that ask buyers 
to purchase items outside of the 



normal eBay process. Also, unless you 
are selling a domain name, don't put a 
domain name, email address, or phone 
number in your listing's title. eBay's 
Circumventing Fees policy also pro- 
hibits exorbitant shipping and han- 
dling fees. Cover your shipping costs, 
but don't be surprised if eBay ques- 
tions unusually high shipping charges. 

Reserve price violations. The 
Reserve Price feature lets users list 
items at low starting prices without the 
risk of selling an item for less than 
they're willing to accept. Once a seller 
sets a Reserve Price, any bidders who 
place bids below that level receive mes- 
sages that explain they haven't 
breached the Reserve Price (the bid- 
ders can't see the price). If no bids 
cross the Reserve Price, no bidders win 
the auction. If your listing indicates 
that high bidders must buy the item 
even if their bids don't breach the 
Reserve Price, eBay may issue you a 
warning or suspend your account. 

Make sure to select the Reserve Price 
feature if you mention the item's 
Reserve Price anywhere in the listing 
(title or description). eBay prohibits re- 
ferring to nonexistent Reserve Prices. 
Also, don't skip the Reserve Price fee by 
creating a non-Reserve Price listing and 
then withdrawing the listing when you 
think bids won't reach the price you 
want — this type of behavior disap- 
points potential buyers. 

Final Thoughts 

As we said earlier, you can avoid 
most or all of these problems by using 
common sense. Shoot for a mutually 
beneficial trade, not a windfall. And 
don't try out any particularly tricky ad- 
vertising ideas without first checking 
out eBay's policy page (click Policies at 
the bottom of the main page). If you're 
still not sure whether your brilliant 
marketing scheme crosses any lines, 
contact eBay. If you and the buyer play 
fair, you'll both come out of the expe- 
rience winners. Qjs] 

by Joshua Gulick 



94 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



Not Quite 

Everything Under 

The Sun 



A Look At What Yoi 



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Sell 



Before you try to 
sell your first 
item on eBay, 
you should take some 
time to read through 
the auction site's list- 
ing policies (pages.ebay.com/help/sell 
/policies. html). These policies don't 
refer to specific items, but they provide 
a good overview of what you can and 
cannot do when listing an item. Once 
you're familiar with the listing policies, 
you can begin to consider whether or 
not a specific item is permissible. 

Items that may violate eBay's listing 
policies are divided into three main 
categories: Prohibited, Questionable, 
and Potentially Infringing. Items listed 
under Prohibited are generally not al- 
lowed to be sold on eBay, while exam- 
ples listed under Questionable may be 
permissible depending on the circum- 
stances. Examples listed under Poten- 
tially Infringing may violate copyright 
or trademark law. Any item that would 
appear to violate intellectual property 
law is prohibited regardless of whether 
or not that item itself is prohibited. 

In most cases, items are listed as 
Prohibited because they either violate 




some sort of law or 
the item violates eBay policy. For ex- 
ample, the variety of local, state, and 
U.S. laws concerning firearms makes it 
almost impossible to sell firearms on 
eBay. By the same token, it's not sur- 
prising to learn that drugs (including 
prescription drugs), drug parapher- 
nalia, fireworks, counterfeit goods, and 
alcohol are all mostly prohibited. 
(eBay makes a few exceptions for spe- 
cific wine sellers, but if you are one of 
the lucky few allowed to sell wine on 
eBay, you probably don't need this 
guide.) It may, however, surprise you 
to learn that selling seeds and plants 
through eBay is prohibited. The USDA 
has several rules and regulations in 
place to protect local environments 
from plants it considers noxious. 
These fine legal details could derail 
your big sale if you're not careful. 

Other items are not restricted be- 
cause they're illegal, but rather be- 



cause they violate eBay policies. For 
instance, you cannot sell catalogs that 
contain items currently for sale 
through eBay. This prohibition pre- 
vents the seller from selling a low- cost 
catalog that might generate additional 
revenues for the seller outside of eBay. 
In some instances, you may still be 
able to sell an item listed as Prohi- 
bited, but it usually requires a consid- 
erable amount of extra work. For 
instance, if you can prove that the 
seed or plant you're selling isn't con- 
sidered noxious and that it's legal to 
distribute the plant where you live, 
you may be able to sell it on eBay. 
(Although, in this example, you'll also 
need to make sure you can ship the 
plant or seed to the winning bidder 
wherever he may live.) Although 
many pipes fall under the 
realm of drug paraphernalia, 
pipes made from briar wood, 
clay, corncob, meerschaum, and 
similar materials are considered 
safe to sell on eBay as these pipes 
are usually associated with to- 
bacco. Although you usually can't 
sell animals or animal products on 
eBay, you may be able to sell live trop- 
ical fish and domestic aquatic snails on 
eBay provided you have the right pa- 
perwork to ship the animals. (You also 
need to ship next- day air and take spe- 
cial packaging precautions.) 

Generally speaking, you can list 
items identified as Questionable pro- 
vided that the circumstances don't in- 
fringe on eBay's policies or local law. 
Artifacts are listed as Questionable be- 
cause in some circumstances selling 
these items may violate federal law. 
Artifacts taken from protected caves or 
national parks, for instance, are always 
prohibited. Native American or 
Alaskan Native crafts must be labeled 
as reproductions and placed in the ap- 
propriate category if they're not made 
by an enrolled member of a state or 
federally recognized Indian tribe. You 
can sell event tickets on eBay, but you 
must abide by specific restrictions. If 
you live in the same general area as the 
event, for instance, you cannot accept a 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 95 



Selling 



bid above a certain price limit that 
varies according to the seller's state. On 
the other hand, if you don't live in the 
general location of the event and sell to 
a buyer also in a different location, 
there is no limit on the selling price. 

Possibly Infringing items include 
objects that may violate copyright or 
trademark law and are thus regulated. 
You cannot, for example, sell record- 
able media that contains data on eBay 
unless you own the copyright on the 
data. That means you can't sell a 
music compilation burned onto a 
CD-R unless you created the music 
(and if that's the case, you need to 
state it within the item description). If 
you buy a CD-R of original music, 
you cannot turn around and resell the 
CD-R on eBay as the band maintains 
copyright on the music. 

Another example of a Possibly 
Infringing item is software that's in- 
cluded with a hardware purchase. 
Known as OEM (original equipment 
manufacturer) software, this software 
cannot be sold on its own and must 
accompany hardware. 

We don't have room to cover all 
items listed in all three categories. For 
more information, visit pages. ebay 
.com/help/sell/item_allowed.html. 

Country To Country 

Laws change from country to coun- 
try and complicate matters for interna- 
tional sellers. Make sure that an item is 
permissible to sell in your country as 
well as in each country where you offer 
the item for sale. Canadians aren't pro- 
hibited by eBay from selling lock- 
picking tools, but such items are 
prohibited for sale on eBay in the 
United States. That means a Canadian 
can't sell lockpicking tools to an Amer- 
ican on eBay. To avoid such conflicts, 
make sure you research eBay's listing 
policies for each country you ship to. If 
you find out an item isn't permissible 
in a certain country, choose not to ship 
to that country when you list the item. 

The complexities of international 
law can make it difficult for sellers 



who want to ship items internation- 
ally. Before selling items to a partic- 
ular country, make sure that the item 
you are selling is legal in the country 
in which you want to offer the item. 

Policy Adjustments 

eBay's policies have adapted and 
evolved over time, and they continue 
to do so today. One of the most publi- 
cized changes in policy occurred on 
May 17, 2001. Before that date, eBay 
allowed the selling of historical items 
related to groups such as the Nazis 
and the Ku Klux Klan provided the 
items were at least 50 years of age. A 
French lawsuit against Yahoo! for 
selling Nazi memorabilia forced eBay 
to reevaluate its policies. The new 
policy states that "eBay will judiciously 
disallow listings or items that promote 
or glorify hatred, violence, or racial in- 
tolerance, or items that promote orga- 
nizations (such as the KKK, Nazis, 
neo-Nazis, and Aryan Nation) with 
such views." 





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You can place tickets to events for sale on eBay 
provided you abide by the site's strict rules 
and regulations concerning such auctions. 



The policy update, however, goes 
beyond hate groups to include items 
associated with murders. These items 
might include personal belongings of 
a convicted murderer or novelty items 
that bear a murderer's likeness. 

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If a Native American item is not made by an 
enrolled member of a state or federally 
recognized Indian tribe, you may only sell it 
on eBay as a Reproduction. 

sell offensive items of historical impor- 
tance (provided they're genuine and 
not associated with hate groups), it is 
illegal to use offensive terms in the 
listing even if the term is part of an 
item's name. There is an exception for 
items listed in media categories such as 
books and movies. eBay allows offen- 
sive language for items in these cate- 
gories if it is part of the item's title. 

Mistakes 

Given the complexities of eBay's 
listing policies, it's possible that you 
may at some point make a mistake and 
list an item that you're not allowed to 
sell on eBay. If this happens, eBay has a 
number of disciplinary actions it can 
pursue. There is no specific rule for 
how eBay responds to violations of its 
listing policies. In some cases, eBay 
may simply send a written warning. In 
other cases, eBay may remove the 
listing immediately and send you an 
email explaining why. In most cases, 
eBay refunds your listing fee if it re- 
moves one of your listings. 

In cases where sellers cause prob- 
lems, eBay may suspend the seller's ac- 
count. If a seller tries to relist an item 
that's been removed multiple times, for 
example, eBay may suspend the seller. 
Suspension, however, is something you 
probably won't have to worry about if 
you make a simple mistake. H 

by Chad Denton 



96 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



How To List 
Auctions 

Putting Your Treasures Up For Bid 




Think of it as selling extra room 
in your own closet. Or getting 
a stranger to pay you to have 
more floor space. When you get rid 
of something that's just in the way, 
and you're getting paid to do it, that's 
when you'll become a convert. That's 
when you'll be an eBay seller. 

eBay's listing process is long, but not 
difficult. We'll guide you through it in 
this article as we set up an account and 
try to sell a book. See the articles 
"Follow The Rules For Sales Success" 
and "Not Quite Everything Under The 
Sun" in this issue for more details on 
what you can't do or sell on eBay. 

Prep Work 

Before you do anything else, assess 
your sale item from top to bottom. 
Jot down any defects you find, such as 
scuffs on a book's cover or chips in a 
figurine. You may get lower bids by 
being explicit about your item's true 



condition, but you'll more than make 
it up by the reputation you'll get as an 
honest seller. 

Next, write up a description of 
your item. A paragraph or two is 
enough for most auctions, except if 
you're selling a car or something else 
with a long list of pertinent details. 
Try to be clear and thorough. 

Finally, take a good digital photo of 
the item or scan a photo print of it. A 
photo isn't required, but it will likely 
bring in more bids. Set your camera 
to medium or low detail settings. A 
megapixel or two will do and probably 
won't be too big for eBay to accept. 

Create Accounts 

Time to sign in at www.ebay.com 
with your user ID and password. If you 
haven't created an eBay account yet, 
click Register on the left and follow the 
instructions. See "Membership Has Its 
Privileges" on page 44 for more help. 




A Seller's Account is an addition to your eBay 
user account. eBay makes its money from 
selling fees, so you'll need to enter credit card 
and bank account information here. 

Next, set up a Seller's Account, 
which allows you to sell stuff on the 
site. Because eBay gets its cash flow 
from sellers' fees, you'll need to supply 
a credit card number and information 
from a bank account to set up your 
Seller Account. An alternative service 
is ID Verify (pages.ebay.com/services 
/buyandsell/idverify-login.html) . This 
$5 service compares your name, birth- 
date, and certain credit information to 
unspecified consumer and business 
databases to establish your identity in 
a different way than bank and credit 
card details. Flip ahead to "Do You 
Know Who I Am?" on page 136 for 
more details on ID Verify. 

Click Set Up A Seller's Account, 
then Create Seller's Account. On the 
secure page that appears, enter your 
credit or debit card's number, expira- 
tion month and year, and three- or 
four-digit card identification number. 
There are some pictures and a link to 
help you find these. 

Next, look over your name and ad- 
dress on the right. They must match 
your name as it appears on your card 
and the address to which your credit 
card bills are sent. Click Edit Address 
if you need to change anything here. 
When you're finished, click Continue. 

Now enter your bank's name and 
routing number, plus the number of 
your checking account there. If you're 
in doubt as to which number is 
which, contact your bank. Click Con- 
tinue when you're through. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 97 



Selling 



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much gentler on sheetmetal, so you can do 
more auto body repairs. This one's like new; I 
made a few practice welds with it, then lucked 



Take a good, well-lighted photo of the item you're selling, and make sure it's in focus. 



The following page asks whether 
you want eBay to charge listing and 
selling fees to your checking account or 
credit card. Click either option, then 
Continue. You'll arrive at the Choose A 
Selling Format page discussed below. 

Listing 

There are third-party software prod- 
ucts that can help you make attractive 
listings, such as Omni Auction Builder 
from Jason's PC Software ($20; 30-day 
free trial; www.omniauctionbuilder 
.com) and eBay's Turbo Lister (free; 
pages.ebay.com/turbo_lister/index 
.html). In this article, however, we'll 
stick to eBay's step-by-step wizard. 

Assuming you've set up a Seller's 
Account as described above, browse 
to eBay.com and sign in. Click the Sell 
link at the top of the page and then 
select Sell Your Item. 

Choose a selling format. The road 
forks on this page. You can sign up 
for Real Estate advertising here, as 
well as explore how to set up a Store 
or sell items at fixed prices. For now, 
leave the Sell Item At Online Auction 
button selected and click Continue. 



Category. Although any eBay user 
will be able to find your listing with a 
keyword search, many buyers prefer 
to browse through auctions in a par- 
ticular category. To attract these bid- 
ders, you should try to categorize your 
item in a reasonably specific way. 
After you've selected a Main Category, 
you can use the Enter Item Keywords 
To Find A Category field to search for 
existing auctions of items like yours. 

We wanted to sell a Jimmy Buffett 
anthology, so we chose Books and 
searched for "Tales From Margarita- 
ville." We learned that 64% of other 
sellers had listed the same book in 
Books: Fiction Books. We clicked Sell 
In This Category. Alternatively, you 
can choose the closest-fitting category 
and subcategories in each of the num- 
bered boxes in the Main Category area. 

If you want to list your item in a 
second category, use the box near the 
bottom of the page. This may snag a 
few more category shoppers, but it 
also doubles several of your fees. 
When you're done, click Continue at 
the bottom of the page. 

The next page demonstrates a nice 
thing about selling books on eBay. The 



Selling Strategies 



It's tough to sell something on 
eBay without a few positive feed- 
back points. eBay's system takes this 
into account by letting you receive 
feedback whenever you buy some- 
thing, as well as when you sell, so 
buy a few things first. Besides gaining 
points, you'll also learn what seller 
behaviors buyers like and dislike. 

As you answer bidders' questions, 
check the box to make the Q&As 
visible to other buyers. If one bidder 
takes the time to ask you something, 
chances are that several others are 
wondering the same thing. 

Some users skip the auction part 
altogether, yet still take advantage of 
eBay's search engine and user base 
to hawk their wares at set prices. 
After you get five or 10 positive 
feedback points, you can list your 
item in the Fixed Price format 
through that option on the Choose 
A Selling Format page. Buyers can't 
bid, but you can let them make of- 
fers you can accept or decline. (See 
pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fixed 
price-FAQ.html for more info.) 

You can't list multiple simulta- 
neous auctions for an individual 
item, but eBay does let you list 
quantities of identical products in 
one listing. You can also post a 
number of matching listings to sell 
identical goods, up to 20 auctions in 
the case of event tickets because of 
their limited lifespan. This is tricky 
territory, so start looking for 
specifics at pages.ebay.com/help 
/sell/policies.html#Multi. 

Finally, make potential bidders 
more comfortable about buying 
from you with an About Me page 
(pages.ebay.com/help/feedback 
/about_me.html). If you're plan- 
ning to make a business out of your 
selling, consider starting a Store. (See 
pages.ebay.com/storefronts/start 
.html and the article "Starting Up 
Your Store" on page 149 in this issue 
for more details.) I 



98 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



site lets you put a generic description 
and photo into your listing. Simply 
type in the ISBN (International Stan- 
dard Book Number) from the bar code 
on the back of the book and then click 
Continue. To illustrate the process 
for more types of items, we clicked the 
Continue button on the right of the 
screen under List The Standard Way. 

Title and description. The item 
title is the headline eBay shoppers will 
see when your auction pops up in 
their search lists. In just 55 characters, 
try to convey the specifics of what 
you're selling, along with any other 
likely search terms. You should only 
pay for a subtitle — basically a second 
headline — if you really need the room 
for details that will attract more bids. 

Under Item Specifics, enter other in- 
formation pertinent to the type of cate- 
gory you chose for your item. Don't 
skip these. Many potential bidders 
will want to know this stuff, such as 
whether a book is in good condition, is 
a first edition, or is autographed. 



Tips For Better Listings 



Selling 



Most important is the 
Item Description. This 
is the main text of your 
listing. Expound upon 
the virtues of your item, 
briefly recount its history, 
note its possible uses, and 
describe in detail any 
flaws it has (see "Tips For 
Better Listings" in this ar- 
ticle). Click Continue 
when you're done. 

Pictures and details. 
This long page is easier to 
complete than it looks, 
and the Learn More links 

eBay provides can help 

you. eBay may ask you to 

download some software if you plan to 

add your own photos to your listing. 

First, set a starting price for your 
auction. Lower is better. More users are 
likely to bid on something others want, 
and a ridiculously low opening price 
will encourage that all- important first 
bid. If you're worried about selling the 



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little attention to every part of your auction page can pay off. 



Item title. If there's room, a bit of truthful praise at the end, such as "Excellent 
Shape," may win a few more page views. 

Photo. Focus well and make sure that the background behind the item isn't dis- 
tracting or unsightly. 

Item description. The more descriptive you are, the fewer questions you'll have 
to answer later. For example, if your spot welder attachment includes the original 
users manual, say so. If you're willing to ship internationally, say that too. Use the 
spellchecking link eBay provides to proofread your text and ask someone to give 
it a glance. 

Next, punch up your text with some HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) tags, 
which are simply instructions you type into your description to add boldface, 
italics, line spaces, and other formatting. There's a link to HTML tips under the 
Item Description entry field; see webmonkey.wired.com/webmonkey/reference 
/html_cheatsheet for more. 

You type one HTML tag, such as <b> for bold text, to start a formatting 
change before the words you want to affect. To shut off the formatting after the 
words, you type the same tag with a forward slash, such as </b>. For example, to 
embolden the book title in the phrase below, you would type: 

If you enjoyed Buffett's latest book, <b>A Salty Piece Of Land</b>, you'll love 
his first full-length novel. 

Don't forget to preview your listing text to make sure your HTML tags work the 
way you envisioned. I 



Use eBay's search on the Select Category page to find out how 
other sellers categorized items similar to yours. 



item too cheaply, set a Reserve Price at 
the right. The item won't sell if bidders 
don't top the reserve price, which will 
be undisclosed until that time. 

For a nickel, you can also set a Buy 
It Now price for users who don't want 
to wait to win. eBay will charge this 
fee along with any others you incur, 
such as listing and final-value fees, 
after your auction closes. 

Choose how long you want your 
auction to last, from one to 10 days, 
and whether you want to hide bidders' 
user IDs from each other in a Private 
Auction. You can also pay 10 cents to 
delay the start of your auction; some 
users report slightly better results with 
auctions beginning and ending on 
Sunday. Change the quantity and lo- 
cation of your item here if necessary. 

You can include one digital photo 
with your listing for free. After that, 
it costs 15 cents to add more photos. 
Certain items, such as cars, really need 
photos to help them sell. You can pay 
more to have larger pics or other pre- 
sentation options below. Meanwhile, 
the 10-cent Listing Designer lets you 
add a clip -art border and arrange your 
page's layout with some presets. 

It's well worth the 25 cents to add 
a Gallery photo, which is one that 
will appear next to your item title 
on a search page. Gallery Featured, 
meanwhile, is a $19.95 option that 
will plop your auction's photo in a 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 99 



Selling 



paid feature section. Most items 
don't warrant such placement, but 
some do. 

Other a la carte upgrades on this 
page remind us of the add-ons avail- 
able for classified ads in a newspaper. 
You can spice up your item title in 
boldface ($1), a border ($3), or col- 
ored highlighting ($5) to catch more 
eyes, for example. Just don't nickel 
and dime yourself out of a profit. 
Click Continue when you're ready. 

Payment and shipping. Time to 
spell out the types of payments you'll 
accept. Most bidders won't pass you a 
bad personal check for fear of getting 
negative feedback points, but the risk is 
still there. It's a good idea to have a 



PayPal account, not only for the ser- 
vice's convenience and transaction 
speeds but also for the level of trust- 
worthiness it implies. 

Choose the areas of the world you're 
willing to ship to, and remember that 
international shipping costs extra. 
Select up to three Domestic Shipping 
options under the Flat tab if you're 
charging a flat shipping fee, or click the 
Calculated tab if you want to charge 
buyers actual shipping costs to be de- 
termined by their locations. Use the 
Research Rates And Services or Preview 
Rates links, as applicable, to predict 
how much shipping will cost. eBay 
describes how to add an automatic 
shipping cost calculator at pages.ebay 



Joke Listings 



A man in Brownsville, Texas, listed an auction selling a genuine Texas snowball. A 
Humphrey, Neb., resident put his goals, dreams, and aspirations up for grabs. 
And a woman in Indiana sold her father's ghost so that her son wouldn't be afraid of 
it hanging around any longer. 

The Internet is a weird place, so it didn't take long for auction sites to gather 
their first joke entries. Many gag listings are just for fun or are attempts to get the 
story picked up by bloggers and the media. One enterprising seller tried to sell the 
entire Internet, says eBay's Dean of Education Jim Griffith, "for a trillion dollars." 

Some users hope to get money for nothing; after all, somebody out there might 
want a set of in-laws, slightly used. Others seem to want to make a political or social 
comment, as in the case of vote sellers and the university professor who tried to sell 
his soul in a jar. Still other sellers hope to score more than just some cash, such as 
the high school computer club president who wanted to auction off his virginity. 

"The most infamous joke listing is probably the one that offered a human 
kidney," Griffith says. The kidney auction appeared on Aug. 26, 1999, and touched 
off media coverage ranging from the indignant — both against the sale and against 
the people against the sale — to the sanguine. "To be frank, we never checked to see 
if it was a joke listing or not. In any event, eBay doesn't allow the sale of human body 
parts, so it was pulled pretty quickly," Griffith says. 

"There isn't much eBay can do to stop people from listing an item that is not an 
actual item for sale or for an item that is actually for sale but violates our listing 
policy. Said listings are usually reported and removed within hours of going live to 
the site," Griffith says. "We do remove any reported listings that violate eBay policy 
and warn the seller against future activity with the threat of suspension on a 
second offense." 

A tongue-in-cheek listing stands a better chance of being left alone if the 
winner of the auction will get a physical object for her money. Even the sale of the 
ghost in Indiana came with a cane that had belonged to the alleged spirit when 
alive. In this case, the cane convinced eBay to let the auction conclude. A casino 
bought the "ghost" and cane for $65,000. 

"As long as there is something tangible for sale, it's caveat emptor regarding any 
'extras' like ghosts, spirits, good fortune," Griffith says. I 






eBay gives you several chances to preview 
parts of your listing before it goes live. Check 
everything once or twice. 

.com/services/buyandsell/shipping 
center7.html. 

Some buyers ask for insurance on 
their packages, based on weight, so 
consider offering them the option 
here. Don't forget that you're respon- 
sible for sales tax if a buyer is located 
in your state. If you want to specify 
payment instructions to your buyers 
or state whether you accept returns, 
type these into the fields toward the 
bottom of the page. 

Review and submit. This is your 
final chance to check things over be- 
fore you officially submit your auc- 
tion. Use the Preview feature and 
utilize the Edit links if you want to 
change anything. Click Submit Listing 
when you're done. 

After The Listing 

Good customer service will net you 
good feedback. Check your My eBay 
page at least once each day. Bidders 
will often ask you questions, and it's 
in your best interest to answer them 
fully and quickly. 

Most bidding activity takes place 
on the listing's final day, including the 
closing seconds of the auction. Some 
buyers use so-called sniping software to 
place last-minute bids, so don't be sur- 
prised if the final price jumps up a bit. 

If your item sells, congratulations! 
The next two articles cover shipping 
your item and how to get paid for it. [rs] 

by Marty Sems 



100 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



Make An 
Impression 

How To Set Up End Of Auction Emails 



HfflflWflH 



o- 



HlHtlw)(Hn)n;«lDinnli 



Winning Buyer No- 
tification emails 
have been a staple 
of eBay buying for quite 
some time. However, this 
winter, eBay discontinued 
its Winning Buyer Notifi- 
cation messages and elected 
to combine the winning- 
bid announcement with 
End Of Auction email 
messages. For buyers, this 
doesn't signal a huge 
change, other than that a 
winning bidder will receive 
one rather than two auto- 
mated messages at the con- 
clusion of bidding. 

Sellers will also see little change. 
The End Of Auction message will still 
provide sellers with opportunities to 
advertise their eBay Stores, display 
other current auctions, and perform 
cross-promotions. However, the End 
Of Auction messages also offer new 
opportunities to reach out to buyers. 

A Logo's Worth A Thousand Words 

The biggest change is that sellers can 
now include logos in End Of Auction 
messages. By default, eBay will include 
the eBay Store logo if a seller has a 
logo, an eBay Store, and a PayPal ac- 
count. However, if you do not have an 
eBay Store, you can still take advantage 
of the custom-logo option. 

First, click My eBay at the top 
of the main eBay page. If prompted, 
type your Username and Password. 
On the left side of the screen, under 
My Account, click eBay Preferences. 
About two-thirds of the way down the 



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Sellers can now configure End Of Auction email messages to include 
personalized logos and custom messages to buyers. 



page, you will see Customization 
Preferences End Of Auction And 
Transaction Emails. Click the Change 
link to the right. 

You must store your logo offsite. 
You may store the logo in a directory 
for your own Web site if you have one 
or you may upload your logo to a 
photo-sharing site, such as smugmug 
($29.99 annual subscription; www 
.smugmug.com), which permits off- 
site linking. 

Your logo must be 90 pixels high x 
310 pixels wide. You can use a photo- 
or graphics- editing application, such 
as Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 
($99.99; www.adobe.com) to design 
and resize your logo. Once you have 
created a logo and uploaded it to a 
Web site, make sure the Include My 
Logo Located At The Following Web 
Address (URL) checkbox is selected. 
In the following field, you should 
paste the URL (uniform resource lo- 
cator, or Web address) of your logo. 
To verify that eBay can successfully 



link to your logo, click the Test Your 
Logo link. 

Communicate With Your Buyers 

You can also set up a customized 
message that eBay will include in all 
of your End Of Auction messages it 
automatically sends to winning bid- 
ders. You can access these set- 
tings on the Customize End 
Of Auction Email page, just 
below the Logo options. 

If you want to include a 
custom message, place a check 
in the Include My Custom 
Message In This Email check- 
box. eBay will always include 
the basic information a seller 
needs, such as the item name, 
your payment instructions, 
and a Pay Now button. eBay 
can also include a default 
thank-you message addressed 
to your buyer that lists the 
item name and item number. 

You can edit the default 
message to write a more per- 
sonalized greeting or to direct buyers 
to your other auctions. You can write 
a message up to 2,000 characters in 
length. Items in braces ({ }) are words, 
phrases, numbers, or symbols that 
eBay will automatically insert in your 
message. For instance, eBay will re- 
place {TITLE} with the title of your 
auction. To add such fields, click the 
AutoText drop-down menu and se- 
lect Buyer User ID, Item Number, 
Item Title, Seller Email Address, Seller 
User ID, or Favorites List. 

Finally, to receive copies of all End 
Of Auction messages, click the Send 
Me A Copy Of The Custom Email 
When It's Sent To A Winning Buyer 
checkbox. To finish customizing 
your End Of Auction messages, click 
the Save button. Now your winning 
bidders will see your logo and a 
customized message, improving buyer- 
to- seller communication and increas- 
ing the likelihood of future sales. H 

by Kylee Dickey 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 101 



Selling 



Shape Up & Ship Out 

Packing & Shipping Your Product 




A funny thing about selling on 
eBay is that the real work often 
comes after the auction. Listing 
an item takes some effort, certainly, but 
once the auction has ended you have 
some manual labor to do: packing the 
product and shipping it to the buyer. 

Packing and shipping aren't tasks 
that you want to do haphazardly. If an 
item arrives at its destination in tatters, 
you'll probably have to refund the auc- 
tion price, losing money on the deal. If 
you underestimate the cost of shipping, 
you could end up wasting your profit 
on shipping, and if you overcharge the 
buyer for shipping, he or she could end 
up dissatisfied with the transaction. 

eBay provides many tools that can 
help make the last part of the transac- 
tion go smoothly. But don't wait until 
the auction is over to read this article: 
Some of eBay's shipping tools work 
best if you use them when you put the 
item up for auction. 

Before and after the auction, eBay's 
Shipping Center (pages.ebay.com/ser- 
vices/buyandsell/shipping.html) is a 
helpful resource for buyers and sellers. 
It provides access to the shipping calcu- 
lator, shipment tracking information, 



and information about eBay's shipping 
label printing function. We'll look at 
each of the tools below. 

eBay Shipping Calculator 

As you are creating the auction 
listing, pay attention to step four on 
the Sell Your Item form: Payment 
And Shipping. That's where you lay 
out the terms of the shipping fees for 
your auction. You can specify a flat- 
rate for shipping or have the ship- 
ping costs calculated automatically, 
based on the weight of the package 
and the buyer's address. If you don't 
enter any information into this sec- 
tion, you and the buyer will have to 
hash out shipping costs after the auc- 
tion. To avoid unpleasant surprises it 
is usually better to establish these 
costs beforehand. 

When you use either flat-rate or 
calculated shipping, the shipping cost 
will be included in the invoicing and 
checkout process once the auction is 
over. So you're likely to get paid faster 
and with the correct amount. 

Whether you opt for flat-rate or 
calculated, you can list three shipping 



options for domestic buyers, plus 
three for international buyers. If you 
offer more than one option, the buyer 
will get to choose one when the auc- 
tion has ended. You might offer a 
cheaper but slower option, such as 
USPS Parcel Post, as well as a speed- 
ier, more expensive shipping method, 
such as USPS Priority Mail. 

Although it can be important to 
give the buyer several choices (espe- 
cially for heavier items that can be 
more expensive to ship) it is also im- 
portant to make shipping convenient 
for you. If the lines at your local post 
office are always unbearably long, 
then don't make that an option. 
Instead, you might use UPS, which 
can pick up the package at your door. 

Flat-Rate Shipping 

Used wisely, flat- rate shipping can 
be more convenient for sellers: It 
eliminates the need to weigh the item 
before listing it. Flat-rate shipping is 
often preferable for buyers too, be- 
cause it eliminates uncertainty about 
the total cost of a product. 

The U.S. Postal Service offers spe- 
cial flat-rate Priority Mail shipping 
containers, which are available for 
free (another bonus for the seller) at 
your post office and at supplies. usps 
.gov. There are two choices for boxes: 
a 3-3/8-inch high x 11-7/8-inch wide 
x 13-5/8-inch deep package, which 
USPS says is ideal for garments, board 
games, books, and other thin items; 
and a 5-1/2- x 8-1/2- x 11-inch box, 
which the Post Office suggests is right 
for shoes, model cars, and other taller 
items. These packages cost the same 
to mail: $7.70 regardless of their 
weight or destination. 

Another option is the flat-rate 
Priority Mail envelope, which mea- 
sures 12-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches, or about 
the size of a manila envelope. It's a 
good size for mailing a magazine, 
book, or other flat object and costs 
$3.85 to mail. 

If you're going the flat-rate route, 
simply make sure that the item you're 



102 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



selling fits in a flat- rate package, then 
state in the shipping costs section of 
the auction listing that shipping to 
anywhere in the United States will 
cost a flat $3.85 or $7.70. 

If your buyer is in another country, 
there may be flat- rate options, as well. 
A Global Priority Mail envelope (avail- 
able in the manila- sized 12-1/2 x 9-1/2 
inches and a smaller version) fre- 
quently costs $5 to $9 to send, de- 
pending on the destination country. 

Calculated Shipping 

If your item won't fit in a flat- rate 
box or you just don't want to offer 
flat- rate shipping, click the Calculated 
tab in the Shipping Costs window. 
Once you give it information about 
the package's size and weight, eBay 
gives the buyer dynamic, accurate in- 
formation about shipping costs. 

Enter the weight of the package in 
the Lbs and Ozs fields. For an accu- 
rate shipping cost, it's important to 
have an accurate weight. So you may 
want to box up the product while 
you're creating the auction listing. 
After all, the box and packing mate- 
rial add to the weight of the package. 



rd Shapes and Size Guideline Chart 



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Is your package too large to ship in the mail, or 
an unusual shape? And what is girth, anyway? 
Learn the answers at the Prepare Your 
Packages section of the USPS Web site. 



You can use a kitchen scale 
to determine the weight of 
lighter items. For heavier 
items, a bathroom scale can 
do the job: Just weigh your- 
self holding the package 
and subtract your weight 
without the package. 

You'll also need to tell 
the calculator about the size 
of the package. For USPS 
shipping, it isn't necessary 
to get out the measuring 
tape unless the package is 
particularly large, in which 
case extra shipping charges 
may apply. Simply make a selection 
such as Large Envelope or Package 
from the drop-down menu. UPS does 
require the exact dimensions of your 
package, however. 

As with flat- rate shipping, you can 
specify up to three domestic and three 
international shipping options. Once 
you list the auction, the buyer will be 
able to see the cost of shipping based 
on your location, his location, and the 
weight of the package. And when the 
auction ends, both you and the buyer 
will receive the shipping cost infor- 
mation in email. 

You can choose to add a packaging 
and handling fee in addition to the 
cost of shipping. Because extra fees 
can be off-putting to potential bid- 
ders, it's a good idea to add these fees 
only if there will be a legitimate sub- 
stantial cost in packaging the item, for 
instance, if you need to buy a large 
box or pay to have a large item crated 
for shipping. 

Print Labels & Track Shipping 

If you sell a lot of items on eBay, 
consider using the site's label printing 
tool (pages.ebay.com/services/buyand 
seh7shippingcenter9.html). It will 
print shipping labels with electronic 
postage, which can save you the 
trouble of waiting in line at the post 
office or UPS office to pay for ship- 
ping. You can pay for postage using 
your PayPal account. To access the 



Shipping Center 



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The Shipping Center is eBay's hub for information about 
shipping the products you sell to buyers. 



label printing feature, go to the Selling 
section of your My eBay page, select 
the checkbox next to the item that 
you want to ship, and click the Print 
Shipping Labels button. 

Your package is on its way and 
your work is done, almost. If, in 
a few days, the buyer emails to ask 
"Where's my stuff?" you can use 
package tracking to find out. If you 
used eBay's label-printing tool, 
tracking is included. The Items I've 
Sold section of the My eBay page will 
show you the shipment status for 
each auction item. USPS tracking 
normally costs extra but is free when 
you use the eBay label printing tool. 

What if you didn't print the label 
from eBay's site? You can still track the 
package, and it's only a little extra ef- 
fort. Every UPS package has a tracking 
number, which you'll receive when 
you ship it. Go to www.ups.com, click 
the Tracking tab, and enter the 
tracking number. You'll find out if the 
package has arrived or, if it's still in 
transit, where it is along the journey. 
FedEx (www.fedex.com/us) and DHL 
(www.dhl-usa.com) also provide free 
tracking on every package, as do a few 
other express shippers. 

To track packages shipped with the 
U.S. Postal Service, you'll need to 
purchase a tracking service such as 
Delivery Confirmation, which costs 
55 cents in addition to the regular 
cost of postage. To track a package, go 
to www.usps.com, click the Track & 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 103 



Selling 



Confirm link, and enter the 
tracking code. 

Shipping Big Stuff 



Ship It Trace It My Account 

Welcome to the Freight Resource Center, 

Your solution for moving heavy items whether door-to-door or, terminal-to-terminal 

View DemO Tre Freight Resource Center provide: 

shipping rates and book shipments 01 
auction related items. 



If you're selling a large 
item, make sure you know the 
weight and size limitations for 
your shipper. For UPS, pack- 
ages can be up to 150 pounds, 
up to 108 inches in length, 
and up to 165 inches in length 
and girth combined. USPS 
has a top weight limit of 70 
pounds, with a combined 
length and girth of 130 inches. 
Other shippers have similar 
maximums, so check their Web sites 
for specifics. If your boxed product ex- 
ceeds the limits of standard carriers, 
such as a piece of furniture, you may 
need to use a freight company, a 
shipper that specializes in moving large 
packages. eBay's Freight Resource 
Center (ebay.freightquote.com) pro- 
vides information about freight ship- 
ping costs and options. 

International Shipping 

Shipping auction items outside the 
United States can be a special chal- 
lenge, but it can also be worth the 
trouble: Opening your auction to in- 
ternational bidders just might sig- 
nificantly increase the final value 
of your auctions. The International 
Shipping section of eBay's site (pages 
.ebay.com/services/buyandsell/ship 
pinginternational.html) offers re- 
sources that make the process simpler, 
including an International Shipping 
calculator, a currency converter, a 
time zone calculator, and links to 
printable customs forms. 

Packing Prowess 

Packing your product is an impor- 
tant aspect to shipping, but oddly, eBay 
doesn't provide much information 
about packing for shipment. Shipping 
companies' Web sites, however, do. 
The U.S. Postal Service offers plenty of 




Are you selling a heavy item? Offer your l;i i t't quotes from yom 



le Ship It tab for step-by-step freight optior 



If you have questions, i 



ill SSS.S75.7S2Z or chat live with a dedicated 



w Demo | FAQs 



When you're planning to ship something that's significantly 
bigger than a breadbox, eBay's Freight Resource Center can tell 
you how to get it there. 



packing tips at www.usps.com/busi 
ness/packages/p rep areyour pack 
age. htm, and UPS serves up tips at 
www.ups.com/content/us/en 
/resources/prepare/guidelines. 

No matter which shipper you use, 
it is vital to pack your product well to 
ensure that it makes the journey to its 
destination intact if there's rough 
handling along the way. Don't assume 
just because an object isn't fragile that 
it can't be damaged in shipping: A 
book could be torn up if packed in a 
flimsy envelope that rips in transit. 
Wrap your item in layers of news- 
paper, bubble wrap, or some other 
soft material. Pack it in a container 
that is slightly larger than the product, 
with a cushion of soft but stable filler 
such as packing peanuts, balled-up 
newspaper, or foam. If the item is 
hollow (a vase, for example) put filler 
inside it, as well. If you are shipping 
more than one item together, wrap 
them separately so they can't bang 
into each other. 

It's great to reuse boxes, but re- 
move any old mailing labels and 
stickers first and then make sure 
your box is sturdy enough to survive 
another trip. You can reinforce its 
edges with packing tape if necessary; 
the USPS recommends using 2-inch 
or wider clear or brown packag- 
ing tape, reinforced packing tape, 
or paper tape. (Don't use cord, 
string, or twine, which can jam mail 



processing equipment.) 
Also, put clear packaging 
tape over your new mailing 
label to prevent the address 
from smearing. 

Of course, you should al- 
ways put your return address 
on the package. But it's also a 
good idea to put your return 
address on a label inside the 
package. That way, if the 
outer address label is ripped 
off in transit, the shipper can 
get the box back to you. 
If your package weighs less 

than 1 pound, you can affix 

postage and drop it in the 
USPS collection box. If it weighs more, 
USPS rules say that you must hand 
it to a letter carrier or take it to the 
Post Office. 

Shape Up & Ship Out 

There's one more shipping resource 
worth knowing about: eBay's Pack- 
aging & Shipping Discussion Board 
(forums.ebay.com/dbl/forum 
.jsp?forum=96). There you can ask 
questions and get advice about the 
best way to pack up odd items, or just 
spend hours between auctions de- 
bating the pros and cons of bubble 
wrap vs. packing peanuts. You'll find 
plenty of informative topic threads 
for newbie shippers, including "How 
do you pack items for shipping?" 
and "The Unofficial Guide to USPS 
Insurance Claims." 

Packaging and shipping your 
product can be the most time-con- 
suming part of the auction process, 
but it is also the most satisfying. After 
all, it gets that extra stuff out of your 
house and cash into your hands. So 
use eBay's shipping tools, combined 
with the information at shipping 
companies' Web sites, to make the 
process go smoothly. H 

by Kevin Savetz 



104 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



Close The Deal 

Get Paid For Your Sale & Avoid Disputes 




You've taken the time to create a 
compelling listing complete with 
pictures and accurate, in-depth 
information that makes your item 
sound so enticing you almost want to 
bid on it yourself. Your hard work pays 
off with a winning bid that's more than 
you expected, but now what? How ex- 
actly does the money find its way from 
the bidder to your wallet, and once 
you've received your money, what do 
you need to do to seal the deal and 
avoid any disputes? Stick with us and 
we'll show what you need to know. 

Pick Your Payment Poison 

When you originally list an item, 
you have to make a number of deci- 
sions that will affect how the payment 
process proceeds. At the end of the 
auction, eBay will send the buyer an 
email letting him know he's won the 
auction. By default, the buyer will see 
a Pay Now button in this email. 
Clicking this button walks him 
through the payment process ac- 
cording to payment options you spec- 
ified when listing the item. You can 
opt not to include this button, 



though. 
Click My e- 
Bay, select the eBay Preferences link 
under My Account on the left side of 
the screen, and click Change in the 
Payment Preferences section under 
Seller Preferences. This might be 
helpful if you prefer to arrange pay- 
ment options with buyers yourself. 

Regardless of whether you choose 
to display the Pay Now button, it's al- 
ways a good idea to send the buyer an 
invoice. To send an invoice, click the 
Send Invoice button in My eBay or on 
the item listing page. Select the item 
or items for which you want to send 
an invoice and provide any relevant 
details related to shipping and han- 
dling, insurance, tax, and payment 
options. This is also a great opportu- 
nity to thank your new customer for 
his business. 

When listing an item, you have the 
opportunity to select acceptable pay- 
ment options in the Payment & 
Shipping portion of the listing. 
Available payment options include 
PayPal, Money Order/Cashier's Check, 
Personal Check, and Other. If you 



select Other, be sure to provide more 
information in the item description. 
These options help automate the pay- 
ment procedure as much as possible 
when the buyer clicks the Pay Now 
button. Each payment method has its 
own advantages and drawbacks. 

Money orders and cashier's checks 
are the safest form of payment. Like a 
personal check, these checks are safe 
to send through the mail, but unlike a 
personal check, there's almost no 
chance the check will bounce because 
it's drawn on a financial institution 
rather than a personal account. 
Because there's little downside for the 
seller, most gladly accept this form of 
payment. Some buyers, however, dis- 
like this form of payment because it 
requires extra work on their part, in- 
creases the amount of time they have 
to wait for the item to arrive, and re- 
quires paying an additional fee. 

Personal checks are riskier to ac- 
cept because of the possibility of a bad 
check. If you decide to accept per- 
sonal checks, we highly recommend 
you make it a policy not to ship the 
item until the check has cleared. Most 
merchants allow 10 business days 
from the date of deposit for the check 
to clear. You should include any 
policy regarding personal checks in 
the item description. Dealing with 
personal checks might be aggravating 
for you, but it's more convenient for 
the buyer, especially when he's not in 
a hurry to receive the item. 

PayPal may be the most conve- 
nient payment option for buyers 
because it lets them pay online with a 
credit card or directly from their 
PayPal account and eliminates any 
shipping delay. You'll need a Premier 
or Business account to accept credit 
card payments through PayPal. 
PayPal will charge you a flat 30-cent 
fee plus 2.9% of the total payment, 
provided the payment is less than 
$3,000 for each payment received. 
The percentage decreases as the pay- 
ment amount increases. You can find 
a complete list of PayPal's fees on its 
Web site (www.paypal.com). 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 105 



Selling 



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You'll need to consider payment options when you list an item. 
You can choose to accept PayPal, Money Order/Cashier's Check, 
Personal Check, and Other in the Payment & Shipping section 
when you list your item. 



Accepting credit cards through PayPal is convenient for 
customers but exposes you to chargeback risks. 



Because PayPal is convenient, you 
may receive more bids if you offer 
PayPal, but accepting credit cards 
may expose you to a potential charge- 
back. A buyer can file a chargeback 
with her credit card company if she 
fails to receive the item or if she be- 
lieves the item doesn't live up to its 
billing. If you're found at fault, PayPal 
will refund the buyer's money from 
your account and charge you a $10 
surcharge ($15 for Canadian users). 

There are things you can do to pro- 
tect yourself from a chargeback. 
PayPal's SPP (Seller Protection Policy) 
covers sellers for up to $5,000 annu- 
ally. There are no extra costs associ- 
ated with PayPal's SPP, but there are a 
number of regulations you need to 
abide by in order to be SPP eligible. A 
complete rundown of SPP require- 
ments is available at www.paypal.com. 

You also need to note that SPP of- 
fers no protection if the buyer claims 
that the item was "not as described." 
The policy also does not apply to in- 
tangible items, such as services. 

There are numerous alternatives 
you can use to accept payment. BidPay 
(www.bidpay.com) is one of the more 
popular and lets buyers use a credit or 
debit card to purchase a money order 
online. You'll receive an email from 
BidPay when it mails the payment, and 
you'll usually have the money order 



within three to five business days (al- 
though it can take as long as 10 busi- 
ness days). If you want, you can ship 
the item as soon as BidPay notifies you 
that it's mailed your payment. 
Alternatively, you can let BidPay de- 
posit payments directly into a U.S. 
checking account. There are no extra 
BidPay fees associated with this option, 
and it allows you to receive payments 
in as little as three business days. 

Conflict Resolution 

According to eBay, a bid is a con- 
tract to buy an item (provided you win, 
of course). That sounds pretty ironclad, 
but in the real world it doesn't mean 
much. The $29.50 you were promised 
for your Boba Fett action figure isn't 
worth the trouble of a lawsuit. If you 
do run into problems collecting money 
from a buyer, however, you should file 
an Unpaid Item dispute with eBay. 

You must file an Unpaid Item dis- 
pute within 45 days of the auction 
close. Normally, you'll have to wait a 
minimum of seven days before filing a 
dispute. In most cases, eBay will send 
a friendly email reminding the buyer 
to pay and offering him a chance to 
pay right away. The buyer will also see 
a pop-up window if he visits eBay 
anytime in the next 14 days. The pop- 
up window allows the bidder to pay 



right away or, if he's already paid, 
send payment details to you. The 
pop-up window also provides the 
buyer and seller an opportunity to 
communicate through a special pri- 
vate message board on eBay. 

You can close the dispute anytime 
after you receive one comment from 
the buyer. There are three options for 
closing a dispute, and the option 
selected dictates the outcome. Hope- 
fully, you can close a dispute by 
stating that you've received payment 
and that both parties are happy. If you 
feel the buyer is stringing you along, 
however, you can choose to stop 
waiting for payment. This option lets 
you receive a Final Value Fee credit 
(this is the fee you're charged when an 
item sells and it's based on the win- 
ning bid) and in most cases, you'll be 
allowed to relist the item for free. The 
buyer receives an Unpaid Item strike 
against him. These strikes do not af- 
fect the buyer's feedback, but if too 
many Unpaid Item strikes are accu- 
mulated over a short period of time, 
eBay may suspend the buyer's ac- 
count. Suspensions are entirely at 
eBay's discretion and depend greatly 
on the circumstances. Three strikes 
might be enough to trigger a suspen- 
sion if the strikes come from different 
users and are accumulated in a rela- 
tively short amount of time. 



106 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



You can also close an Unpaid Item 
dispute if you and the buyer come to a 
mutual decision not to proceed with 
the sale. Closing a dispute in this 
manner lets you receive a Final Value 
Fee credit and you can relist the item 
free of charge. The buyer will not re- 
ceive an Unpaid Item strike. You can 
also select this option at the time you 
file the Unpaid Item dispute. If the 
buyer doesn't agree to this, however, 
you will not receive a Final Value Fee 
credit and won't be allowed to relist 
the item for free. The buyer will not 
receive an Unpaid Item strike and 
eBay will close the dispute immedi- 
ately. If the buyer doesn't respond in 
one week, the seller can close the dis- 
pute at any time. Closing the dispute 
in this manner allows you to receive a 
Final Value Fee credit and issues an 
Unpaid Item strike against the buyer. 

You can file a dispute immediately 
if the buyer is no longer a registered 
eBay user or if the buyer resides in a 
country that you've stated you do not 
ship to. In both cases the buyer re- 
ceives an Unpaid Item strike and you 
receive a Final Value Fee credit. 

Remember that if you want to relist 
the item and receive a relist credit, you 
need to file the Unpaid Item dispute 
and relist the item within 90 days. Also 
note that increasing the starting price 
or reserve price may nullify the relist 
credit. You may not receive credit for 
listing options such as bold type. 

Escrow 

Escrow services are overkill for small 
items, but they are a useful way to 
make buyers feel more secure when 
buying large-ticket items. When using 
an escrow service, the buyer sends pay- 
ment to the service instead of the seller. 
Once the service receives payment, it 
notifies you and you ship the item to 
the buyer. The escrow service tracks the 
package and once the buyer indicates 
that the package arrived, the escrow 
service forwards the payment to you. 

You can specify that you're willing to 
use escrow services when you list an 




Evaluate shipping options carefully. This box 
from the USPS measures 5.5 inches high x 8.5 
inches wide x 1 1 inches deep and costs $7.70 
to ship any item that fits within the box to any 
destination within the United States regard- 
less of its weight. 



item or you may decide after the auc- 
tion closes to use the service. Either 
way, it's important that both parties 
agree to use it. The escrow service 
charges a fee depending on the pay- 
ment amount, so you should come to 
an agreement with the buyer as to 
who's responsible for these charges. 

From a buyer's perspective, the most 
important thing is to insist on using 
eBay's official escrow service, Escrow 
.com (www.escrow.com). Be wary of 
any buyer who wants to use a different 
escrow service. Scams involving phony 
escrow services are common, so eBay 
recommends that you report any buyer 
who insists on using an alternative. 

If you're shipping internationally, 
eBay recommends several alternative 
escrow services. You'll find a list of 
these services at pages.ebay.com/help 
/sell/escrow.html. 

Ship 

By the time you're ready to ship the 
item, you should already have pay- 
ment from the buyer. Don't overlook 
the importance of packaging and 
shipping the item promptly. In some 
ways, this is the most important step 
in the entire transaction process for 
building a loyal customer base. 

When preparing an item for ship- 
ment, be sure to select the best pack- 
aging for the item. Corrugated 



cardboard boxes are the most secure 
for shipping larger items, but envelopes 
and other containers may work for 
smaller, less fragile items. For more in- 
formation about packing and shipping 
items, read "Shape Up & Ship Out" on 
page 102. The safer the item the less 
likely it is you'll have to deal with an 
upset customer who received an item 
damaged in the mail. 

If you prefer, you can provide a 
shipping calculator for buyers. The cal- 
culator lets buyers calculate a shipping 
fee based on the package's dimensions, 
weight, and the buyer's location. The 
calculator reassures buyers that they 
aren't overpaying for shipping. The cal- 
culator, however, doesn't take into ac- 
count any additional service you may 
use when shipping a package (such as 
delivery confirmation). You can specify 
a Packaging And Handling fee for these 
extra services. The calculator supports 
most USPS and UPS delivery methods. 
When listing your item, click the 
Calculated tab under Shipping Costs in 
the Payment & Shipping section. 

Alternatively, you can list a flat 
shipping fee for an item. Flat fees are 
sometimes easier because you don't 
need any specifics about the package 
(such is its dimensions and weight). If 
you're using a different shipping ser- 
vice, such as FedEx, for instance, 
you'll need to specify a flat rate. 

Don't Forget Feedback 

After you've received your money 
and the buyer has received the 
package, you should leave feedback for 
the buyer (and if you haven't already 
done so, you should encourage the 
buyer to leave feedback for you). We 
recommend you wait until the buyer 
has received the item before posting 
feedback just in case any unwarranted 
disputes crop up after the buyer re- 
ceives the item. Although disputes can 
arise for a number of reasons, we hope 
we've outlined some steps you can take 
to limit such disputes. H 

by Chad Denton 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 107 



Selling 



The Ins & Outs 
Of Selling Online 

We Set Up Shop As A New eBay Seller 



There are many types of eBay 
sellers. Some are casual sellers 
who only list an item when they 
find an old trinket for which they no 
longer have a need. Others use eBay to 
start a business and sell hundreds or 
even thousands of items each month. 
The large- quantity sellers generally 
have an advantage in gaining buyers' 
trust and attracting bids, both because 
of their experience and because of the 
time they've had to build a good repu- 
tation in the eBay community. 

To learn what it takes to start 
selling on eBay, we sold several items 
using a relatively new user account. 
We had several items available: an 
XM Satellite Radio receiver, a "Trixie 
Belden" paperback book, a vintage 
Apple Computer book cover from the 
'80s, and a complete set of computer 
magazines. We did not list all of the 
items, though. Read on to see how we 
decided which items to sell. 




fe or Ik 



To research the recent selling value 
of our "Trixie Belden" book, we clicked 
the Advanced Search link in the upper- 
right corner of eBay's main page. Our 
book was No. 38 in the series and titled 
"The Indian Burial Ground Mystery." 
To see if any copies of this book had 
sold recently, we placed a check in the 
Completed Listings Only checkbox, 
typed "Trixie Belden" "Indian Burial 
Ground" in the Enter Keyword Or 
Item Number field, and clicked the 
Search button. Recent copies of this 
book had sold for between $43 and 
$80. Then we clicked the View Active 
Items link to see current auctions for 
this book. Two other copies were 
available, had several days left for bids, 
and were already selling for more than 
$20. We had a spare copy of this book, 
which originally cost just $1.95. We 
definitely wanted to sell our spare. 



Next, we researched the Apple 
memorabilia. We expected that these 
items would sell well because of the 
legions of devoted users who worship 
Apple Computer. However, when we 
browsed items in the Vintage Apple/ 
Macintosh category, most vintage 
Apple products were not selling well. 
Had we not researched this category, 
we might have parted with items that 
would sell much better locally. The 
Apple He manual and software set be- 
longed to a family member. The price 
we expected to get for this set wasn't 
enough to outweigh the value he 
placed on it. 

We also chose not to sell the com- 
plete set of magazines. We knew that 
its value was not in the individual is- 
sues but in the complete collection. 
However, we could see that other 
large magazine collections did not 
sell well, most likely because the 
cost of shipping a heavy stack of 
magazines deterred buyers. We 
can sell this set of magazines for 
more locally. 

We did list the book cover, though. 
One other seller offered the same 
book cover but had no bids. We at- 
tributed this to the high starting price 
($14.95). We felt that we could start 
the bidding at 99 cents to generate 
bids and create some competition 
amongst bidders who weren't willing 
to place an initial $14.95 bid. 

Finally, we checked eBay's current 
and recently ended listings for XM 
Satellite Radio receivers. Most were 
selling between $15 and $50, a pretty 
reasonable price. 

Not So Fast 

First, we needed to set up a seller ac- 
count. We signed into our user ac- 
count and clicked My eBay, Start 
Selling, and Enter Credit Or Debit 
Card. (A credit or debit card is neces- 
sary.) We followed the on-screen 
prompts, entering our credit card, 
billing, and banking information. 
Then we selected the method 
(Checking Account or Credit Or Debit 



108 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



Card) in which we would pay our 
listing and selling fees. 

We read eBay's terms of use and 
clicked Authorize Checking Ac- 
count. We clicked the Sell Item At 
Online Auction radio button and 
clicked Continue. 

"Trixie Belden: The Indian Burial 
Ground Mystery" 

We selected the Books radio button 
under Main Category and the Chil- 
dren's Books subcategory and clicked 
Continue. eBay lets users upload one 
photo for each listing. Additional 
photos cost 15 cents each. We paid to 
list a total of three product photos: 
one of the front cover, one of the back 
cover, and one from an angle, show- 
ing the quality of the page edges and 
spine. We paid another 75 cents to 
supersize images, providing bidders 
with a good look at the book. 

Next, we wrote our item descrip- 
tion, focusing on the rarity and excel- 
lent condition of the book. We also 
mentioned some qualities that might 
reduce its value. The description read 
as follows: 

This second-to-last book in the 
Trixie Belden series is from the hard-to- 
find Golden/Square Ed. 

I've had this book since its original re- 
lease. I had two copies. This was my 
spare, which I flipped through but never 
read. The book is in very good condition, 
with no tears and the pages are tight 
against the spine. The edges of the cover 
show only slight shelf wear. 

On the page that lists other books in 
the Trixie Belden Series, there are small 
pencil marks next to #23 and #28. 
Please see the photos for several views of 
this book. 

We chose a starting bid of 99 cents, 
confident that demand for this rare 
book would drive up prices. We 
hoped the low starting bid would en- 
courage early bids. 

The auction. This was a very active 
auction. We listed the book on a 
Sunday night, and by early Monday af- 
ternoon, we already had our first bid. 



eb 



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eBay walks sellers through each step of the listing process. 



Soon, the bidding frenzy started. By 
early Tuesday afternoon, our book had 
climbed to more than $20, and we'd 
had three bidders competing for the 
"Trixie Belden" book. By Wednesday 
afternoon, our book had reached a 
winning bid of more than $30, and by 
the end of the night, the bids were up 
to $41.53. 

During the time that our book was 
listed, another seller listed the same 
book, but it was in very poor condi- 
tion. The seller described it as "a very 
poor copy" and said the book had 
been wet and had mildew stains on 
the cover. The seller added, "I did toss 
it in the microwave to kill whatever 
was growing and we gave it a cleaning 
to get the crud off, still looks pretty 
bad to me though. Not recommended 
for folks with allergies! . . . [The] 
pages are all there and its [sic] legible, 
please don't expect much more." 

By comparison, our book was in 
excellent condition, but the mildewy 
book sold almost as well as ours did. 
When our auction stalled out at 
around $42, the bids for the warped, 
mildewed book started to really pick 
up. In the end, our book sold for 



$42.53, and the mildewed book sold 
for just $4 less ($38.20). 

Our best explanation for the high 
price of the worn book was that its 
seller had a feedback score of 2,100. 
We, however, only had a score of 7. 
We suspect that many buyers felt safer 
buying a severely damaged book from 
a trusted seller than a very good book 
from a novice seller. 

As soon as the auction ended, we 
clicked the link on the auction page to 
send an invoice to the buyer. 
However, the buyer sent his PayPal 
payment before we could even pre- 
pare an invoice. We clicked the 
Contact The Buyer link on the auc- 
tion page and let the buyer know that 
we received payment and would ship 
the book the next day. Then we left 
positive feedback for the buyer. 

Shipping. Because the "Trixie 
Belden" book is rare, we felt it was 
important to carefully ship the book. 
We wanted the buyer to receive the 
book in the best condition possible, 
and we also wanted to avoid any 
claims of damage that we did not in- 
clude in the item description. We 
checked eBay's Booksellers forum 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 109 



Selling 



and found a discussion about the best 
ways to pack books. We learned the 
basics of shipping books, such as the 
importance of wrapping in plastic to 
avoid water damage. 

We also searched Google for more 
shipping tips. After reading several 
booksellers' methods, we decided to 
first wrap the book carefully in brown 
postal paper so that the plastic 
wouldn't stick to the covers and cause 
damage. We wrapped the book as if it 
were a gift and taped the paper in 
place. Next, we rewrapped the book in 
the same manner, except that we used 
Saran Wrap for the second layer. Once 
the book was wrapped in brown paper 
and Saran Wrap, we wrapped the book 
in two layers of bubble wrap to protect 
the book's edges and corners from 
nicks and dings. We taped the bubble 
wrap in place. Finally, we placed the 
book in a ready- to -mail box. Our book 
was a perfect fit. Had it wiggled at all, 
however, we would have placed bubble 
wrap along the edges of the box until 
the book was held firmly in place. 

We requested delivery confirmation 
and a tracking number. This is not nec- 
essary, but we felt the insurance was 
well worth the price. Should anything 
happen to the book, we could prove 
that we had shipped the item, and 
hopefully we could track it down. We 
sent the buyer the tracking number so 
that he could follow his book's progress 
and know when to expect delivery. 

Our efforts paid off. The buyer left 
the following feedback: "book in beau- 
tiful condition and packaging excel- 
lent." This was a great auction. We got 
a decent price, and the buyer was 
happy with the transaction. The only 
downside was that our book barely sold 
for more than a severely damaged 
copy. Had we sold this item when we 
had more feedback, we probably would 
have made an additional $10 to $20. 

Apple Me Or Ik Book Cover 

Next, we listed the Apple Com- 
puter book cover. We gave it a starting 
bid of 99 cents to promote bids. We 



felt that two things were key to a suc- 
cessful auction: product photos and a 
compelling item description. Our de- 
scription read: 

This is an original Apple book cover 
from the 1980s. It is textbook-sized. 
The left/back half features an original 
multicolored Apple logo, and the 
right/ front half pictures an Apple He 
and an Apple lie with the caption "He 
or He. That is the question. " 

This great vintage Apple book cover 
is a great piece of Apple history, is suit- 
able for framing, and is in mint/near 
mint condition. 

You'll notice that we not only de- 
scribed the condition of the book cover 
but also the collectible value and uses 
the item could have for an Apple fan. 

The auction. At first, we were some- 
what discouraged. In My eBay, we 
could see that one user was watching 
the auction, but we had no bids until 
the last day. Then a small bidding war 
erupted. Within less than six hours, 
the book cover went from $0 to 
$15.50. As soon as the auction ended, 
we sent an invoice to the buyer. 

The next day, we received a PayPal 
payment for the full amount, in- 
cluding shipping. We left positive feed- 
back for the buyer and sent a message 
confirming that we 
had received pay- 
ment. The next day, 
we rolled the poster 
up and carefully 
slipped it into a 
poster tube. Once 
again, we requested 
delivery confirma- 
tion. We are glad that 
we requested the 
tracking num-ber be- 
cause as of press time, 
the buyer still hasn't 
left feedback for the 
transaction. The 
tracking number let 
us verify that the 
buyer had received 
the book cover. Still, 
we would have pre- 
ferred feedback so 



m. 



TRIXIE 



THE INDIAN BURIAL GROUND MYSTERY 




This "Trixie Belden" book is an item that 
sells for much more than you'd expect. 



that we knew the buyer was pleased 
with the way we did business. 

Sony XM Radio Receiver 

Our final auction was for a Sony 
DRN-XM01MK2 XM Satellite Radio 
receiver. We had all the components 
that originally came with the receiver. 
The receiver was virtually new (only 
used long enough to verify that it 
worked). However, we could find nei- 
ther the manual nor the box. A clear 
description of the item's like-new 
condition and the reason we weren't 
keeping it would be essential to a suc- 
cessful auction in this case. 

We took a few photos of the re- 
ceiver package so that bidders could 
see the condition of the items and 
that we included all the accessories. 
We paid 15 cents to include a second 
photograph. We used the picture with 
the receiver and all accessories as the 
primary photo, and then we added a 
close-up of the receiver. We wish we 
had also shown a picture of the re- 
ceiver powered up. 

In the written description, we listed 
all of the included parts and specifi- 
cally mentioned that the receiver's box 
and manual were missing. To avoid 
suspicion about the 
sale of a like-new 
item, we included the 
following in the item 
description: 

The receiver was 
tested and worked 
properly. I am selling 
this item because I 
don't want to pay 
for the subscription. 
We set low start- 
ing bids for our 
other auctions, but 
we didn't want this 
receiver to go for 
too little. We set 
the receiver's start- 
ing bid at $14.99, 
lower than most 
of eBay's XM units 
sell for. We also 



110 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



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In My eBay, you can easily keep track of the status of current and completed auctions. 



set a $20 reserve, knowing we could 
get at least that much locally if the 
item didn't sell on eBay. We chose a 
five-day auction to see if a shorter 
listing period would hurt our sale 
compared to our other auctions. 

The auction. We were two days 
into the auction before we got our 
first bid. Once the first bid came in, 
we saw the going price climb quickly. 
The price rose from $25 to $40 in 
less than seven hours. There were 
only two bidders, but they competed 
frantically for this receiver. The day 
before the auction ended, the orig- 
inal bidder returned and placed a 
higher bid than his competitor. The 
auction ended at $41. As soon as we 
received payment, we left positive 
feedback for the buyer, indicating 
that he made payment quickly. 

We used newspaper to carefully 
wrap each of the components, and we 
filled the box with enough excess 
paper so that parts wouldn't shift. We 
wanted to try a different shipping 
method, so we sent this package 
through UPS rather than through the 
U.S. Postal Service. Once again, we 
requested a tracking number. We 
used UPS' automated notification to 
send a link to the item tracking to 
both the buyer and ourselves. Once 
again, we hoped that providing a 



tracking number would meet two 
goals: please the customer and pro- 
vide insurance in case of nondelivery. 

Final Thoughts 

Our experiences made us rethink 
our feedback procedures. There is a de- 
bate within the eBay community about 
whether sellers should leave feedback as 
soon as they receive payment or if they 
should wait until the buyer leaves feed- 
back. Initially, we believed that sellers 
should leave feedback as soon as the 
buyer's payment cleared. After all, a 
buyer's end of the transaction is com- 
plete once she sends payment. 

However, when two of our three 
buyers did not leave feedback, we felt 
that we could have had better buyers. 
It had nothing to do with wanting to 
elicit points toward a higher Feedback 
Score. We wanted to know that our 
buyers received the items, that they ar- 
rived in good condition, and that they 
were happy with the transaction. 
Similarly, we wonder if, for instance, 
one of the packages had been dam- 
aged or lost in shipping, if the buyer 
would have contacted us to discuss the 
situation (and possible remedies) or if 
the buyer would have simply left nega- 
tive feedback. A good buyer should 
not only send prompt payment but 



also communicate with the seller if 
there is a problem. We can only 
wonder how these buyers might have 
handled a dispute, and we can only 
hope that they were pleased with the 
items they bought from us. 

Another thing we noticed was that 
our buyers were all relatively new to 
eBay. Our first buyer had a feedback 
score of 13, the second buyer had a 
feedback score of 23, and the final 
buyer had a score of only 1. We won- 
dered if this was a coincidence or if 
new buyers were more likely to either 
trust or take pity on another relatively 
new eBay member. The buyers with 
high scores flocked to other sellers' auc- 
tions, while those with low scores were 
interested in what we had to offer. 

Our experiences showed how easy it 
is to list and sell items on eBay. Our 
auctions also illustrated the great chal- 
lenge for new sellers. A seller is greatly 
aided by a high feedback score, but the 
only way to gain that score is to have a 
number of successful transactions. 
Buying many items on eBay helps in- 
crease your feedback score, but to gain 
the feedback from buyers, sellers must 
find a significant number of items that 
will sell without the benefit of a flashy 
feedback score. H 

by Kylee Dickey 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 111 



Selling 



Real-Life Sellers 

Tales 



Online Auctioneers Share Their Stories 



K^i-tfrTEf ^'1 



J 




■ .f»oRi a 



i 



The previous article gave you a 
hint as to what selling on eBay 
is like. To get a flavor for what 
unusual situations sellers may en- 
counter, we visited eBay's discussion 
boards and spoke to some sellers 
about their more memorable eBay 
experiences. Whether the stories are 
uplifting, uncommon, or just bizarre, 
they all exhibit what the eBay com- 
munity is capable of. 

Experts Make Mistakes Too 

Sometimes even experienced sellers 
can make mistakes. eBay user dobeldy 
had successfully completed hundreds 
of transactions since starting with 
eBay. On one particular occasion, do- 
beldy listed two very similar items 
for auction. The first one sold rather 
quickly, so dobeldy packaged it up 
and sent it off. The second item sold 
the next day, but upon packaging it to 



ship to the buyer, dobeldy noticed that 
it was the wrong item. The first buyer 
had received the second buyer's item. 

dobeldy contacted the first buyer 
and explained what had happened, 
apologizing for the inconvenience. 
The buyer understood the honest 
mistake, repackaged the item, sent 
it off to the second buyer and even 
forwarded the tracking number to 
the seller. As a gesture of thanks, do- 
beldy sent the proper item to the 
first buyer and refunded the ship- 
ping fees, as well as the full purchase 
price of the item. 

These sorts of good-faith encoun- 
ters are more common than you 
might think. Most experienced buy- 
ers and sellers on eBay have had 
similar experiences. If you come 
across a problem during or after an 
auction, giving a fellow eBay user 
the benefit of the doubt can some- 
times pay off in unexpected ways. 



To Catch One Bad Apple 

Unfortunately, eBay has its share of 
unsavory types who would do what- 
ever it takes to separate you from your 
money. But some technology- savvy 
users aren't satisfied with merely re- 
porting these problem members. 
Rather, they attempt to bait the scam- 
mers. Scam baiting refers to the risky 
activity of tricking criminals, usually 
online scam artists, into believing that 
you are a willing dunce and hence 
ripe for the plucking. Scam baiting 
started out as a way for the law-abiding 
Internet user to exact revenge on 
fraudsters and deviants, but it has since 
evolved into a spectator sport with a 
massive online audience. The Web 
sites www.419eater.com and www 
.scamorama.com are just two of the 
several portals devoted to fans and 
scam baiters. 

One of eBay's greatest scam bait- 
ings started out innocently enough as 
a laptop computer listing. An average, 
unassuming eBay seller, otherwise 
known as MyNam els Jeff, listed an 
Apple G4 PowerBook with a starting 
price of $1,700 and a BIN (Buy It 
Now) price of $2,100. After a few days 
of inactivity, MyNamelsJeff received 
an email from a London-based buyer 
interested in paying the BIN price and 
even the overseas shipping costs. The 
catch: He wanted to use an unknown 
escrow service and conduct the sale 
outside of eBay. 

The Web site for the escrow service 
looked innocent enough, but just be- 
cause an escrow service claims that it is 
licensed, audited, and secure doesn't 
mean that it is. A little detective work 
revealed that the VeriSign Secure link, 
usually an indication of a site's safety, 
was a spoof. As MyNamelsJeff put it, 
this was "your textbook eBay scam." 

MyNamelsJeff was initially inclined 
to reply with a single phrase (con- 
taining a word we cannot print) in 
bolded 72-point font. Resisting that 
urge, he instead decided to embark 
upon his first scam baiting operation. 
MyNamelsJeff replied to the buyer 
and expressed interest in the offer. 



112 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



Bidding has ended lor i 

List aq.K»<nM<>«)i»« buy i 



Careful not to divulge any ^ , 
of his personal information, 
MyNamelsJeff registered an ac- 
count with the fake escrow Web 
site and relayed his eagerness to 
the scammer in a series of 
emails. In one such email, 
MyNamelsJeff naively asked, 
"Do you know if this [escrow] 
site [has] a strong digital de- 
fense? I read that escrow ser- 
vices . . . can often be attacked, 
and the buyer and or seller can 
lose money or their item. I re- 
ally don't want this to happen! 
I'm sure you don't either!" 

The buyer replied that the site was 
"OK" and that he knew others who 
had used the escrow service in the 
past. Further investigation revealed 
that the fake escrow site had been 
created only a few days prior, so the 
buyer's assertion was obviously false. 

MyNamelsJeff had no intention of 
sending anything of value to the scam 
artist, but he wanted to send some- 
thing. With a few helpful suggestions 
from the Something Awful forums 
community, the P-P-P-PowerBook! 
was born. A simple beige three-ring 
binder, the P-P-P-PowerBook! fea- 
tured a hand-drawn screen and 
touchpad mouse, along with errati- 
cally glued-on keyboard keys. The 
package also included a gutted laser 
mouse, broken CD-ROM drive, failed 
CD burns masquerading as various 
programs, and an Excel 97 book to 
add a convincing heft to the package. 

Knowing the scammer would have 
to pay British customs a VAT (value- 
added tax) based on the supposed 
value of the package — and counting 
on the scammer's greed — MyName- 
lsJeff declared the package's value at 
$2,000. This meant that the crook 
would have to pay approximately 
$650 to claim the P-P-P-PowerBook!, 
but who wouldn't take a brand new 
Power- Book G4 for a third of its retail 
price? Rabidly excited forum members 
quickly donated enough cash to pay 
the requisite shipping costs, and after 
a few more naive- sounding emails 



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The final Frank Must Die bid far exceeded the Dingman- 
Grover family's expectations. 



intended to lull the scammer, My- 
NamelsJeff sent the package via FedEx 
Priority Airmail. 

By this time, the thread at Some- 
thing Awful forums had exploded in 
popularity. Forum members within the 
London area began scouting the scam- 
mer's provided delivery address, which 
turned out to be a barber shop and 
Internet cafe. With FedEx tracking 
numbers in hand, forum members 
managed to stake out the shop for the 
exact delivery day and date. 

When all was said and done, the 
scammer paid the fees and got his 
well- deserved notebook. 

A Touching Story About Killing Frank 

"Frank must die." That's the 
Dingman-Grover family's mantra, 
and they're absolutely serious about 
seeing it through. This is the story of 
a simple eBay auction that had little 
to do with bidding and selling and 
everything to do with eBay members 
coming forward to help their fellow 
man. In this case, their fellow man 
was 9-year-old David Dingman, who 
suffers from Rhabdomyosarcoma 
(RAB-doh-MY-oh-sar-COHM-uh), 
a malignant cancer growth of the soft 
tissue. Commonly, pediatric cancer 
patients are encouraged to assign a 
name and personality to their ail- 
ments. David named his tumor 
Frank after the horror movie mon- 
ster Frankenstein. 



David's mother, Tiffini 
Dingman-Grover, started her 
eBay account three years ago as 
a hobby. When the hours at her 
job were reduced, she began to 
rely on eBay for more of the 
family's income. On May 3, 
2003, David was diagnosed with 
Frank, and the added expense 
of the treatment forced Tiffini 
to get more creative with her 
eBay auctions. 

Only slightly smaller than 
Boris Karloff s fist, the tumor 
_ was initially deemed impossible 
to remove without significant 
risk. David's carotid artery, the main 
artery that supplies blood to the 
brain, was precariously close to the 
tumor. Blockage could result in a 
stroke, so David's doctors prescribed 
chemotherapy to shrink and hope- 
fully destroy the tumor. As a result of 
the radiation treatment, Frank dimin- 
ished to the size of a peach pit and 
was barely distinguishable from sur- 
rounding scar tissue. 

Unsure whether the tumor was ac- 
tive or not, David's doctors needed to 
perform a biopsy to sample the tissue 
and determine the next course of ac- 
tion. Tiffini, in between auctioning 
off household items on eBay to foot 
the bills, set out to find doctors able 
to perform the tricky biopsy. Doctors 
at the Los Angeles-based Skull Base 
Institute heard about David's condi- 
tion and suggested a less-invasive and 
life-threatening way to take a biopsy 
of David's tumor, Frank. The surgery 
was scheduled for Feb. 2, 2005. 

In the meantime, Tiffini decided 
to share David's story with the eBay 
community in the form of the Frank 
Must Die bumper sticker. She figured 
that if someone would pay $28,000 for 
a grilled cheese sandwich bearing the 
Virgin Mary's countenance, maybe 
someone would pay to help her son. 
The listing's description stated that 
money raised from the sale of the 
bumper sticker would go toward 
David's treatment costs. Three days 
after it started, the auction was taken 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 113 



Selling 



down due to policy violations. The 
following day, an eBay representative 
called up and walked Dingman- 
Grover through the relisting process 
to ensure that the new listing com- 
plied with eBay's policies. Tiffini re- 
moved any reference to charity and 
instead encouraged interested buyers 
to check out her About Me page, 
which stated that all of her auctions go 
toward paying for her son's treatment. 

The media caught wind of the 
unique auction, and a fierce bidding 
war ensued. As word spread, the com- 
munity of eBay users responded with 
an outpouring of support. Several 
sellers started auctions for items such 
as hats and T-shirts in an attempt to 
help out. Some of the more unusual 
items up for auction in the name of 
defeating Frank included a used Nokia 
cell phone and a 1987 Ford Mustang. 
Many of these unsolicited auctions 
also violated eBay's policy that forbids 
fundraising auctions and were taken 
down as a result. To comply with the 
policy, these auctions merely put 
"Frank Must Die" in the item descrip- 
tion and told interested buyers to send 
an email for more information. 

The revised Frank Must Die bumper 
sticker listing ran its course and ended 
on Jan. 12, 2005. In a bizarre if not 
slightly predictable move, the same 
company that forked over for the di- 
vine grilled cheese sand- 



wich also placed the 
winning bid for the 
Frank Must Die auction. 




The gambling Web site 
GoldenPalace.com won 
the Frank Must Die 
bumper sticker with a 
bid of $10,700. Despite 


1 HERE 


Andrew's relisted auction 
included a few modifications. 



the auction, numerous unsolicited do- 
nations covered the Dingman-Grover 
family's needs, so they decided to de- 
cline the bid amount and offered the 
bumper sticker to GoldenPalace.com 



free of charge. Deter- 
mined to contribute 
the money to a wor- 
thy cause, the site 
donated it, in David's 
name, to victims of 
pediatric cancer and 
their families. 

A Feb. 2 biopsy 
showed that Frank 
the tumor was dead. 
The Feb. 15 update 
on David's Web site 
proclaimed, "David 
has slain his mighty 
Goliath." By the time 
you read this, David 
will be 10 years old. 

Bidding For Body Parts 

Of all the bizarre personal effects 
that get sold on eBay, none are more 
personal than a part of your body. 
So the next time you slap your fore- 
head, be careful. That could be a 
valuable commodity. At least it was 
for Andrew Fischer, a college stu- 
dent looking for help with his bills. 

Andrew's eBay auction offered his 
forehead as advertisement space. The 
eBay listing stated that the highest 
bidder (presumably a company or ser- 
vice of some kind) would get to place 
a temporary tattoo of its logo or com- 
pany name on Andrew's 
forehead. His auction was 
bluntly titled "Advertise 
Your Logo or Website 
Domain on My Forehead." 
Andrew barred profanity or 
anything inappropriate but 
was willing to wear the win- 
ning bidder's advert of 
choice for 30 days. 

Andrew told us that he 
has had a fair amount of 
experience both buying 
and selling on eBay since 
2002, but he created a new profile 
specifically for the forehead auction. 
If it weren't for the extensive media 
coverage, An- drew' s forehead auction 
may have been doomed from the 




The P-P-P-PowerBook! features FireWire and Monitor ports, as 
well as a laser mouse, and full-sized keys! 



outset. But the promise of similar 
media exposure for the winning 
bidder was enough to make this guy's 
forehead suddenly very valuable. 

After the initial auction ended, 
Andrew was unable to contact the 
highest bidder. He relisted the auc- 
tion, this time allowing only preap- 
proved bidders to place bids for his 
forehead. He even took a week off to 
manage the auction, contact bidders, 
and ask them whether or not they 
were seriously interested. When the 
relisted auction ended, and the smoke 
of bogus bids had cleared, Melody de 
Rivel emerged as the winner with a 
final bid of $37,375. 

Christian de Rivel, Melody's father 
and the CEO of SnoreStop, was ec- 
static at the opportunity to spread 
word about its snoring remedy, even 
if it was from atop Andrew Fischer's 
forehead. As an interesting side note, 
Melody managed to out-bid Golden 
Palace.com, the same company that 
won the Virgin Mary grilled cheese 
sandwich and the Frank Must Die 
bumper sticker. 

Andrew is currently studying 3D 
animation and film production at 
the University of Nebraska- Omaha, 
but his head for marketing is un- 
deniable. Whether by his cleverly 
worded auction or sheer dumb luck, 
Andrew's forehead became one of 



114 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Selling 



the most frequently viewed auctions 
in eBay's history with more than 
300,000 hits in four days. 

Get A Head Start On eBay 

A user known as blackfoxtail was 
initially wary of listing his son's pol- 
ished rock jewelry. Seeking advice 
within eBay's Community Discus- 
sion Boards, blackfoxtail expressed 
concern that the sale might end in 
disappointment, "I don't want to 
break the poor kid's heart." Some 
users suggested that, at best, the child 
could make a little money and 
get an ego boost, but at the very 
least blackfoxtail's son could 
gain a life experience in a con- 
trolled environment. 

A few eBay members advised 
blackfoxtail against creating a 
new profile specifically to bid on 
his son's items, as the practice 
can be seen as shill bidding, 
which is against eBay's policy. 
Shill bidding is the practice of 
using friends, relatives, or alter- 
nate registrations to artificially 
drive up the bid price of an item. 
If reported for shill bidding, eBay 
may suspend the accounts of 
both the bidder and the seller. 

Numerous respondents suggested 
that blackfoxtail help his son (now 
dubbed "littlefoxtail" by the Discus- 
sion Board posters) to research sim- 
ilar items sold on eBay. Gleaning 
information from eBay's completed 
listings, blackfoxtail helped little- 
foxtail list a polished rock necklace 
and matching earrings. The bid 
price started at 99 cents and had No 
Reserve, meaning the jewelry could 
possibly sell for the starting price. 
The "7 -year- old prodigy" that crafted 
the one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry 
also threw in a handwritten certifi- 
cate of authenticity. 

By the end of the auction, the lit- 
tlefoxtail's rock jewelry had 25 bid- 
ders and a maximum bid of $41.99, 
more than twice as much as littlefox- 
tail's expectations. 



The $610 Mistake 

A Longtime eBay user named affen 
encountered a unique situation re- 
cently when selling some used books. 
The buyer, also an experienced eBay 
user, bid on and won the books, with 
a maximum bid of $9.99. After ship- 
ping costs were added in, the buyer 
agreed to send off a money order in 
the amount of $14.74. At least that is 
what was supposed to happen. 

You can imagine affen's surprise 
when a $610 money order arrived to 
pay for the books. Through email 
correspondence, the seller informed 



eb ra 




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Sometimes the story behind the item can drive the bidding 



the buyer of his mistake and offered 
to send the money order back with 
the books. The buyer meanwhile had 
gotten a call from his landlord asking 
how he expected a $15 money order 
to pay for this month's rent. The pan- 
icked buyer was grateful for the sell- 
er's honesty and agreed to pay an 
additional $23.50 via PayPal to cover 
the overnight express shipping and 
handling fees. Before the end of the 
week, the seller was paid, and the 
buyer had his books, and nobody was 
needlessly evicted. 

Averting A Crisis 

Sometimes, of course, the simple 
business of buying and selling an ob- 
ject can take a more unpredictable 
turn. Take the following story, for ex- 
ample, in which one member of the 



eBay community actually prevented a 
personal tragedy. 

One of linairhead's first selling ex- 
periences on eBay involved a musical 
jewelry box. A day before the auction 
ended, the item's lone bidder sent 
linairhead an email requesting a bid 
withdrawal. The bidder's reason for 
retracting the bid was that he wanted 
to commit suicide and didn't want 
his family to have to deal with the 
auction details. 

Taking the bidder's email seri- 
ously, linairhead contacted the po- 
lice, who informed him that without 
the bidder's address they 
couldn't provide help. Linair- 
head replied to the bidder's re- 
quest by encouraging him to 
reconsider the suicide and seek 
help immediately. Being new 
to eBay, linairhead didn't yet 
know how to obtain a fellow 
eBay user's direct contact in- 
formation, and eBay's Live 
support could not guarantee a 
response to the issue until the 
next business day. 

Linairhead had recently at- 
tended an eBay University class 
taught by Marsha Collier, au- 
thor of "eBay For Dummies," so 
he sent her an email explaining the sit- 
uation. Marsha called linairhead and 
walked him through the process of 
finding a user's home contact infor- 
mation. With the bidder's home ad- 
dress in hand, linairhead notified the 
local sheriffs department of the bid- 
der's intended suicide. 

Three hours later, linairhead got a 
call from the dispatcher informing 
him that the bidder was indeed in dis- 
tress and needed medical attention. 
Luckily, the bidder made it to the 
hospital and received treatment. 

Relieved, linairhead sent the musical 
jewelry box to the bidder, free of 
charge. Both users kept in contact after 
the incident. The bidder recovered and 
sent linairhead a collector's item stamp 
to show his gratitude. S 

Andrew Leibman 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 115 



Selling 



Tools Of The 
Trade 




VV/ith eBa/s Help 




Selling an item on eBay is easy, es- 
pecially if you use the site's seller 
tools — a set of links and pro- 
grams that help you sell an item faster 
by helping you manage your items 
and review your auctions. Using these 
tools, you can create auctions for mul- 
tiple items, check for feedback on re- 
cent auctions, and track new bids. 
We'll start with the Turbo Lister. 

Turbo Lister 

Turbo Lister lets you create auctions 
for multiple items. For example, you 
can create new auctions for a baseball 
card, an electric guitar, and an an- 
tique clock. Go to pages.ebay.com 
/turbo_lister to download this tool. 
Click Download and select the Turbo 
Lister Web Setup to run a Web-based 
version of the program, or select 
Turbo Lister Full Setup to run the 
desktop program. The only difference 
between the two versions is that the 
Web version requires you to be con- 
nected to the Internet while you're 
making your listings. If you use a pop- 
up blocker, disable it before you click 
the link or press and hold CTRL to 



temporarily disable the blocker. Next, 
click the Installer link and follow the 
instructions for installing Turbo Lister. 
At the final install screen, select the op- 
tion to run the program and click 
Finish. Turbo Lister will open. Select 
the Set Up A New Turbo Lister File 
and click Next. Enter your username 
and password, click Next again, then 
click Connect Now, and verify your 
contact information. Now, select 
Create A New Item and click Finish. 
You'll notice that the screens in Turbo 
Lister look similar to the screens you 
see when you start a new auction at 
www.ebay.com. The difference is that 




Use the Seller's Assistant to create new actions 
for several items and track your sales. 



you can now quickly create auctions 
for multiple items in a program that 
runs on its own, instead of using 
Internet Explorer. 

Seller's Assistant 

Seller's Assistant (pages.ebay.com 
/sellers_assistant) is a subscription- 
based auction management tool. There 
are two versions of the program. 
Seller's Assistant Basic (pages. ebay 
.com/sellers_assistant/basic.html) is for 
tracking auction sales and managing 
email and costs $9.99 per month. 
Seller's Assistant Pro (pages. ebay 
xom/sellers_assistant/pro.html) costs 
$24.99 but includes more robust sales 
management and tracking tools, such 
as a tool to create monthly sales reports 
and to track your inventory. Seller's 
Assistant is designed for those who list 
multiple items on eBay and want to ef- 
ficiently manage their sales. One view 
shows all of your current listings and 
the current high bidder for each item, 
so you can see a summary for all auc- 
tions rather than wading through a se- 
ries of Web pages on eBay.com. 

Completed Listings Search 

Sellers may also want to research 
past auctions. You can find similar 
items to the ones you're selling and see 
the highest bids for those items. To 
find completed auctions, visit pages 
.ebay.com/sellercentral/research.html 
and click the Completed Listings link. 
You can browse through categories or 
perform specific searches for items to 
see past auctions for that item. 

For more tools to help you sell 
more items faster and for more cash, 
visit solutions.ebay.com. You can find 
tools from eBay and third-party soft- 
ware makers and service providers for 
data management, sales forecasting, 
merchandising, email marketing, and 
various researching tools that can 
help you price items according to 
market trends. H 

by John Brandon 



116 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Safety & Security 



Safety First 

Know The Risks Before You Buy Or Sell 




It happens any number of ways. 
Maybe you sent a money order 
for an authentic Babe Ruth au- 
tographed baseball bat and it 
never arrived. Perhaps the "au- 
thentic" bat turned out to be a well- 
crafted phony. Maybe you shipped 
the bat after a fraudulent escrow in 
cahoots with a scammer (or even one 
the scammer himself runs) informed 
you it had received the buyer's pay- 
ment. Congratulations: You're likely 
the victim of a scam. 

Most people will use eBay and 
never experience any problems. 
Buyers generally pay for their items in 
a timely fashion, and sellers typically 
ship the items without delay once they 
receive payment. But what happens 
when something goes wrong? Do 
buyers have any recourse for spending 
thousands of dollars only to never 



hear from a seller again? Are sellers 
permanently up-a-creek if they ship 
their item, and the buyer vanishes 
from civilization? And what about 
identity theft? There are plenty of bad- 
dies posing as eBay and PayPal who 
are eager to extract personal informa- 
tion from you through illegal means. 

Common sense will go a long way 
toward thwarting the scams that infil- 
trate eBay. But, despite your best ef- 
forts, some of the bad guys are 
exceptionally good at what they do. 
We'll show you what eBay does to 
protect you, and what you can do to 
protect yourself. 



Safety From The Start 

Even registering with eBay involves 
passing sensitive personal informa- 
tion over the Internet. To sell items 



on eBay, you must supply credit or 
debit card and checking account in- 
formation. If you register with eBay 
using an anonymous email address, 
such as one from Hotmail or Yahoo!, 
you have to provide a credit card 
number for eBay to verify your iden- 
tity. In a basic sense, you're sending 
your credit card information along 
the Information Superhighway; you 
should know what eBay does to pro- 
tect you in the chance the wrong 
person intercepts your information 
along the way. 

eBay uses SSL (Secure Sockets 
Layer) technology to encrypt your 
important data (such as password and 
credit card) when you sign in. SSL 
takes this data and, packet by packet, 
encrypts it with a randomly generated 
128-bit key. Without knowing the 
key, it would take a hacker quite a 
while to try and crack the encrypted 
packets. If someone wants to steal 
your credit card number or learn your 
password, she will probably use other 
means than unlawfully seizing en- 
crypted information. 

If you need additional proof that 
it's safe to submit your sensitive per- 
sonal information to eBay, look to 
TRUSTe (www.truste.org), which has 
certified eBay as having an acceptable 
privacy policy. You can find more in- 
formation on eBay's Privacy Policy in 
"What Have I Just Signed Up For?" 
on page 47 in this issue. Want to hear 
it straight from the horse's mouth? 
Send an email to privacy@ebay.com. 

Center Security With Security Center 

Think of eBay Security & Resolution 
Center as your one- stop shop for your 
security needs. Access it by clicking the 
Help tab on eBay's home page and 
clicking the Security Center link on the 
left side. From here, you can spring- 
board to a fountain of knowledge re- 
garding eBay rules, policies, and 
procedures used to ensure the eBay 
marketplace stays as safe as possible. 
You can read tips to make your eBay 
experience safe or read case studies 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 117 



Safety & Security 



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showing eBay in action as it 
cooperates to bring scam- 
mers to justice. 

There is also a link to 
the Trust & Safety Dis- 
cussion Board, giving you 
the opportunity to share 
information about un- 
scrupulous activities or ask 
for advice about poten- 
tially dangerous situa- 
tions. The eBay commu- 
nity provides advice about 
avoiding scams and fre- 
quently announces scams 
in progress. 

Additional resources at 
the Security & Resolution 
Center help you contact 

law enforcement agencies 

and protect yourself from 
other online threats outside of eBay it- 
self. The Online Security Resources 
section has links to the FTC and 
Internet Fraud Complaint Center and 
tips to prevent disasters such as viruses 
and identity theft. 

Buy With Confidence 

Because almost every seller requires 
payment before shipping an item, 
there's always a possibility a seller 
won't ship the item. Are you out of 
luck and out of your money? What 
safeguards does eBay have in place to 
protect you? Here are some tips: 

Be vigilant. You can take the initia- 
tive to protect yourself by doing 
plenty of background research. First, 
use education as a weapon and learn 
as much as possible about the product 
you might be bidding on. If the seller 
provides pictures of an item, you 
don't have to take them at face value. 
Compare the pictures with pictures 
you know are real. Many sellers will 
use pictures from manufacturers that 
don't represent the item they're actu- 
ally selling; don't hesitate to ask the 
seller for actual pictures of his item. If 
he balks, don't bid. 

Be especially cautious with collec- 
tor's items, autographed memorabilia, 



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Think of eBay's Security & Resolution Center as the first line of defense for 
your online auction experience. 



and historical artifacts. If possible, 
know how to spot a fake and famil- 
iarize yourself with the various bodies 
that certify respective items. For ex- 
ample, reputable merchants of auto- 
graphed sports memorabilia should 
include a CO A (certificate of authen- 
ticity) from a trusted third party. 
Don't be afraid to report counterfeit or 
misrepresented items to eBay. 

If you're buying an automobile via 
eBay Motors, have an inspection ser- 
vice double-check the seller is accu- 
rately representing his automobile. For 
more information on hiring an in- 
spector, see "Online Autos" on page 12. 

Analyze feedback. Analyzing feed- 
back is another helpful exercise to pre- 
vent scams. Look for sellers who have 
an established history of credible sales 
and pay special attention to any nega- 
tive feedback a seller has. If a seller has 
a low feedback score or is a first-time 
seller, proceed with caution. Compare 
the nature of the seller's feedback to 
the auction you're following. 

If you notice a glaring discrepancy, 
it's possible a scammer has hijacked 
the account in question. For example, 
if an eBay user has compiled a long list 
of positive feedback as a buyer and 
suddenly turns to selling high-priced 
items, the account's true owner may 



have fallen prey to an 
identity-theft scam. 
Similarly, sellers with a 
long history of selling 
a particular item can 
arouse suspicion if 
they suddenly start 
selling radically dif- 
ferent items. For more 
tips on using eBay's 
feedback system to 
protect yourself, see 
"Focus On Feedback" 
on page 122. 

Squash shill bid- 
ders. Shill bidding is a 
dastardly tactic that re- 
quires cooperation be- 
tween two eBay users 

or one user with two 

accounts (owning two 
accounts itself is prohibited in most 
cases). Sellers use shill bidding to artifi- 
cially drive up the price of their items. 

For example, Andre, a seller, asks 
his friend Mandy to place shill bids on 
his auction. In turn, Mandy will usu- 
ally wait until the auction is almost 
over and place incrementally higher 
bids in an attempt to force the high 
bidder's (Roger) proxy bid higher. If 
Mandy accidentally bids too high and 
becomes the high bidder, she retracts 
her bid and makes Roger pay more 
for the item than he would have 
without Mandy's shill bids. It's not 
fraud, but it's also not fair play. 

To report suspected shill bidding, 
click the Help tab on eBay's home 
page. Click Contact Us and choose 
Report Problems With Other eBay 
Members. Then select Problems With 
Sellers and Seller Is Bidding On 
His/Her Own Item With Another User 
ID. Click Continue. On the next 
page, click Email. Supply the item 
number(s), the seller's User ID, and 
the User ID(s) of the suspected shill 
bidder. Describe the situation and click 
Send Email to alert eBay to the situa- 
tion. It's possible that the bidding is le- 
gitimate, but eBay can suspend the 
seller and shill bidder's accounts if 
your suspicions prove correct. 



118 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Phishing: Don't Be Hooked 



Phishing (short for pass- 
word harvesting fishing) 
scams are among the most 
prevalent scams lurking in 
the vast Internet. While 
phishing doesn't involve 
buying or selling on eBay per 
se, scammers will frequently 
spoof eBay or PayPal. (Spoof 
means to duplicate the look 
of the Web site of a rep- 
utable, frequently used com- 
pany for purposes of illegally 
gathering sensitive personal 
information.) 

There are a number of 
ways to spot a phishing scam. 
First, most phishing scammers 
have a similar modus 
operandi: The scammer will 
send you an email (usually 
from a spoofed email address) 
posing as a legitimate com- 
pany. The subject of the email 
will be time-sensitive; it may 
claim that your account will 
expire if you don't update 
your information or that their 
servers lost some of your in- 
formation. The email will con- 
tain a link to the scammer's 
spoofed Web site. To the ca- 
sual eye, the site itself is often 
indistinguishable from the 
real Web site. But once you 
supply your information to 
the spoofed Web site, the 



scammer can use it for any 
number of criminal activities. 

Know that eBay will never 
instruct you to provide an ac- 
count password, credit card, 
bank account, or other sensi- 
tive information via email. If 
some asks you to send an 
email with this type of infor- 
mation, delete it immediately. 

With a little cyber- 
sleuthing, you can uncover 
the tricks of the trade that 
scammers use with their 
spoofed Web sites. Learning 
to read URLs (uniform re- 
source locators, or Web ad- 
dresses) will spot a lot of 
fakes. eBay and PayPal's 
home pages end in .com. The 
portion of the URL immedi- 
ately to the left usually re- 
veals if a site is spoofed. 

For example, consider two 
hypothetical Web sites: 
www.customerhelp.ebay.com 
and www.ebay.customer 
help.com. Because "ebay" is 
located immediately to the 
left of.com" in the first site, 
you know it is affiliated with 
www.ebay.com, eBay's Web 
site. On the other hand, "cus- 
tomerhelp" belongs to 
www.customerhelp.com. The 
"ebay" in this instance is in- 
tended to throw you off. 



Next, look at the URL's be- 
ginning. Does it start with 
"http" or "https"? The "s" in- 
dicates the site is secure, and 
a padlock icon should ap- 
pear in the lower-right of 
your Web browser window. 
Never submit sensitive infor- 
mation to an "http" site, but 
be wary of "https" sites, too. 
Methods of forging padlock 
icons are available, so don't 
rely on this method alone. 

When in doubt, type it 
out. In our click-happy era of 
computing, we're apt to click 
any link that looks legiti- 
mate. Scammers can easily 
disguise the text of a link to 
look legitimate. For example, 
a scammer can edit the link 
to www.ebay.customer 
help.com, the hypothetical 
scammer site, to appear like 
www.ebay.com or any other 
legitimate site he's trying to 
imitate. But when you click 
the link, you'll go to the 
scammer's spoofed site. 

The eBay Toolbar is an- 
other handy countermeasure 
you can add to your arsenal. 
The toolbar works in conjunc- 
tion with your Web browser 
to combat spoofed Web sites. 
Installing eBay Toolbar gives 
you access to the add-on's 



Account Guard feature, which 
shows you when you are on 
eBay's or PayPal's legitimate 
sites and alerts you when it 
suspects you are visiting a 
phony site. You can also 
submit these sites to eBay, 
and eBay will investigate the 
Web site. If eBay finds the site 
is a fraud, it will provide future 
protection to you and other 
eBay Toolbar users. 

To download eBay 
Toolbar, open a Web 
browser and go to 
pages.ebay.com/ebay _tool 
bar. Click Download eBay 
Toolbar Now. Click Run in 
the dialog box and follow 
the remaining instructions 
to install the eBay Toolbar. 

If you're ever in doubt of a 
suspicious link asking you to 
update your information, 
don't click the link. Instead, 
contact eBay through its 
Web site. On eBay's home 
page, click the Help tab at 
the top of the page. Click 
Contact Us and click Report 
Fake eBay Emails (Spoofs) 
And Unauthorized Account 
Activity. Click the next two 
categories as they pertain to 
your situation. You can also 
forward the suspicious email 
tospoof@ebay.com. I 



The good guys. For every shady 
tactic dishonest sellers use to dupe 
unsuspecting buyers, eBay offers a 
number of certifications for trust- 
worthy sellers such as ID Verify (see 
"Do You Know Who I Am?" on page 
136), PowerSellers (see "eBay's Elite" 
on page 142), and SquareTrade. 

SquareTrade is eBay's chosen on- 
line dispute resolution service. Sellers 
who receive a SquareTrade certifica- 
tion have taken several overtures to 
give prospective buyers peace of 



mind. SquareTrade sellers have 
pledged to resolve disputes through 
mediation if it is necessary. Square- 
Trade also verifies each seller's iden- 
tity before giving a seller the 
SquareTrade seal. SquareTrade pro- 
vides up to $225 (after a $25 de- 
ductible) in protection against seal 
members who commit fraud. 

Reporting bad behavior. While you 
can take a number of steps to minimize 
the chance of losing your money in a 
fraudulent auction, fraud still occurs. If 



you have not been able to reach the 
seller after receiving a grossly misrepre- 
sented item or you haven't received the 
item at all, you should contact eBay. 
You can report unscrupulous behavior 
to eBay using the Contact Us link. On 
eBay's home page, click the Help tab at 
the top of the page. Click Contact Us. 
On the Contact Us page, click Report 
Problems With Other eBay Members, 
Fraud Concerns For Buyers, and then 
select your specific problem from the 
choices eBay offers. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 119 



Safety & Security 



Help® 



'■-. / 



Related Links 



n ■ ' ' . 



eBay University 
Security Center 



■..■■■■.■ ■.-.■...■: 

Center 



You can also try dispute resolution 
through a third party such as Square- 
Trade, which offers its dispute resolu- 
tion services free. 

If you are still unable to resolve the 
issue, you should contact PayPal or 
your credit card company, if you paid 
for the item with a credit 
card. PayPal offers its 
own protection program 
that protects buyers' 
losses up to $1,000. To 
learn more about the 
PayPal Buyer Protection 
program, go to www 
.paypal.com and click the 
Security Center link near 
the bottom of PayPal's 
home page. Click Pay- 
Pal Buyer Protection 
for more details. See 
"How To Use PayPal" on 
page 74 for additional in- 
formation about PayPal. 

When these avenues 
fail, you may be entitled 
to partial reimbursement 
through eBay's Buyer 
Protection Program. With eBay's 
Standard Purchase Protection Pro- 
gram, you can receive up to 100% re- 
imbursement (less a $25 fee to cover 
processing costs) for items up to $200. 
Once the item price exceeds $200, the 
most you can receive in reimburse- 
ment from eBay is $175 ($200 less the 
$25 processing fee). 

You have a time frame between 10 
and 60 days after the auction's end. 
Within this window, file a Fraud Alert 
to start the process. Open a Web 
browser with an active Internet con- 
nection and go to pages.ebay.com 
/buy/resources. html. Click Buyer 
Protection. Under step seven, click 
Item Not Received Or Significantly Not 
As Described Process. This begins the 
process of receiving your item or be- 
coming eligible to file a claim under 
eBay's Standard Purchase Protection 
Program. Once you initiate this 
process, eBay will contact the seller and 
open a dialogue between you and the 
seller. If the dialogue fails, you can 



close the dispute and file a claim to re- 
coup some of your losses. 

You must close the dispute and file 
a claim within 90 days of the auction's 
end. If you take too long, eBay will 
automatically close the dispute and 
leave you with nothing. In the end, it 



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On the Contact Us page, eBay will help guide you to your specific 



can be an excruciatingly long process, 
but eBay and PayPal offer certain 
safeguards to buyers who properly 
follow the reimbursement procedure. 
Auto buyers are one exception to 
eBay's standard Buyer Protection 
Program. When you buy with eBay 
Motors, eBay's free Vehicle Purchase 
Protection covers you for losses up to 
$20,000. For more information on 
Vehicle Purchase Protection, see 
"Buying On eBay Motors" on page 184. 

Secure Selling 

Sellers don't have as much to worry 
about because, as we mentioned earlier, 
most sellers require payment from 
buyers before they ship items. But for 
pricier auctions, both parties frequently 
turn to private escrow services such as 
Escrow.com (www.escrow.com) to 
complete the transaction. 

Dodge dodgy escrow services. If 
you've read "The Escrow Advantage" 
on page 77, then you know an escrow 



service frequently acts as the mid- 
dleman in high-priced auctions. The 
escrow service collects payment from 
the buyer and notifies the seller. Then, 
the seller ships the item to the buyer 
who inspects it to ensure the seller 
properly represented it in the auction. 
The buyer informs the es- 
crow service she is sat- 
isfied, and the escrow 
service releases payment to 
the buyer. 

Phony escrow sites are a 
popular ploy among 
scammers. While these 
sites can be used to de- 
fraud buyers, they're just 
as effective on sellers. To 
defraud sellers, a scammer 
will either set up his own 
phony escrow Web site or 
collaborate with another 
scammer's phony site. 
Scammers will send their 
"payment" to the fake es- 
problem crow service. The scam- 

mer/fake escrow site tells 
the seller to send the item 
for the scammer/ buyer to evaluate. 
Once the seller sends the item, the 
scammer vanishes, (usually) along 
with the phony escrow site. 

As a seller or buyer, be wary of pro- 
posed escrow services. While there are 
legitimate online escrow services 
other than Escrow.com, it is easily the 
most-used escrow service among eBay 
users. Be on your guard, especially 
when a buyer/seller proposes an es- 
crow company you're not familiar 
with. Carefully examine the site for 
the lack of a physical address, unpro- 
fessional design, or no seal from com- 
panies such as VeriSign or TRUSTe. 
Scammers may also forge these seals, 
so contact the company that provided 
the seal to confirm the escrow Web 
site carries a genuine seal of approval. 
Also, be suspicious of generous 
buyers offering to pay your shipping 
costs or pay more for the item than 
normal (for example, offering more 
money than your Buy It Now price). 
If you smell a fake, run, Forrest, run. 



120 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



LI.miM.IJJII.ILlJ 



Beat back deadbeats. Falling prey to 
a bogus escrow service may be a more 
serious security risk, but simply 
dealing with a deadbeat bidder (a win- 
ning bidder who doesn't pay for an 
item at the auction's close) is far more 
prevalent. Leaving scathing negative 
feedback might be satisfying, but it 
won't get back the fees eBay charges. 
And selling fees skyrocket alongside an 
auction's price, meaning deadbeat bid- 
ders on expensive items can deliver a 
hefty sock to your pocketbook. 

Just as eBay provides safeguards for 
beleaguered buyers who never receive 
the goods they pay for, the company 
can also give relief to sellers who pay 
selling fees but never receive payment 
from the buyer. eBay lays out a four- 
step procedure sellers can use to po- 
tentially recover lost selling fees. If the 
seller completes the process to eBay's 
satisfaction, eBay will give him a Final 
Value Fee credit and a relist credit. 

Filing an Unpaid Item dispute is the 
first step toward eBay reimbursing 
your fees. You can report an unpaid 
item up to 45 days after an auction's 
close. If the buyer is no longer a regis- 
tered eBay user at the time of the filing, 
or resides in a country you specified 
you would not ship to, you can file a 
dispute and receive a Final Value Fee 
credit immediately. Otherwise, eBay 
gives buyers a seven-day grace period 
before sellers can file a dispute. 

Once you file the dispute, eBay will 
contact the buyer with an email and 
pop-up message if she signs into eBay 
within 14 days of the filing. At this 
point, the buyer has the following 
three options to respond: I Want To 
Pay Now, I Already Paid, and Com- 
municate With The Seller. 

You can close the dispute after the 
buyer responds or if the buyer does 
not respond after seven days. eBay 
gives you the following three options: 
We've Completed The Transaction 
And We're Both Satisfied, We've 
Agreed Not To Complete The Trans- 
action, or I No longer Wish To 
Communicate With Or Wait For 
The Buyer. If you completed the 



Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide 


|| aving your identity 
1 1 stolen can be an un- 


passwords for your other 


a fraud alert on your 


online accounts. 


file. This will keep the 


nerving experience. The 


You should also file a 


scammer from opening 


consequences of identity 


report with your local 


new credit lines under 


theft can range from 


police. Obtain a copy if 


your name. You can also 


losing access to your 


your credit card com- 


check out the forms 


bank account(s), to the 


pany or bank requires 


available at the Internet 


scammer purchasing any 


proof of the incident. 


Fraud Complaint Center 


number of goods, poten- 


Once you report the 


(www.ifccfbi.gov). 


tially at your expense. 


identity theft to your 


You may want to 


Aside from taking reg- 


local police, you should 


download an ID Theft 


ular measures such as 


also notify the FTC 


Affidavit from the FTC 


alerting your banks and 


(Federal Trade Commis- 


To do so, go to www 


credit card companies, 


sion; www.ftc.gov), 


.consumer.gov/idtheft 


you should immediately 


which manages a data- 


and click the ID Theft 


change your password. 


base of identity theft in- 


Affidavit link in the main 


In the event a scammer 


cidents, and the three 


text of step 2. (You'll 


hijacks your account and 


credit bureaus: Equifax 


need Adobe Acrobat 


changes your password 


(800/525-6285; www 


Reader to view the PDF 


before you're able to 


.equifax.com), Experian 


[portable document 


change it, use the 


(888/397-3742; www.ex 


format] file.) 


Contact Us link to send 


perian.com), and Trans 


Being on the receiving 


eBay an email. The 


Union (800/916-8800; 


end of an identity theft 


sooner you contact 


www.transunion.com). 


isn't an enviable posi- 


eBay, the less chance a 


Filing a complaint with 


tion, but act quickly and 


scammer has to use your 


the FTC may aid them in 


complete the steps 


account to place fraudu- 


other identity theft in- 


above to minimize the 


lent bids with your ac- 


vestigations, and con- 


damage of having your 


count. It is also a good 


tacting each of the three 


sensitive personal infor- 


idea to change your 


credit bureaus will place 


mation stolen. 1 



transaction, you will not receive a 
Final Value Fee credit. But if you and 
the buyer agree not to proceed with 
the transaction, or you're finally fed 
up with the buyer, eBay will issue you 
a Final Value Fee credit and make 
your item eligible for a relist credit. 

Although you have 60 days to com- 
plete a dispute, if you fail to close the 
dispute, eBay will automatically close 
the dispute and will not give you a 
Final Value Fee. 

To begin the dispute, click Help on 
eBay's home page. Click Security 
Center under Related Links. Click 
Unpaid Item and Report Problem. 
Enter the item number in the appro- 
priate field and click Continue, then 
eBay will guide you through setting 
up your dispute. 



On Your Side 

Cheaters, thieves, and fraudsters 
will probably be around eBay as long 
there's a chance for them to ply 
their craft. With eBay's services, you 
have several defenses to stop the 
bad guys before they can do too 
much damage. 

In addition to eBay, Uncle Sam 
takes fraud and identity theft seri- 
ously. Don't be afraid to use the con- 
tact information in the "Worst-Case 
Scenario Survival Guide" sidebar to 
bring the feds into the mix. The 
world can be a scary place. Buying 
and selling on eBay shouldn't be. Qjs] 

BY VlNCE COGLEY 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 121 



Safety & Security 



Focus On 
Feedback 

The Vital But Imperfect Linchpin Of eBay 




Bay's user feedback system is one 

eof the site's most important com- 
ponents. Without the conscien- 
tious comments recorded by both 
buyers and sellers, there would be no 
way for anyone to build up a trust- 
worthy reputation in the nearly anony- 
mous realm of cyberspace. And 
without a good measure of trust among 
users, eBay would be a difficult, if not 
impossible, environment in which to 
safely conduct business. 

That's especially true in light of the 
fact that auctions are the primary 



source of online fraud; the National 
Fraud Information Center reported 
that through June 2004, online auc- 
tions accounted for 28% of online 
fraud, and that's without counting 
eBay, which removed its data from the 
center in the fall of 2003. The center 
estimated that if eBay's fraud statistics 
had been included in 2004, online auc- 
tions would have represented a whop- 
ping 76% of fraudulent online activity. 
Don't become a statistic. Learn how 
eBay's feedback system works and use 
it to your advantage. Understanding 



the numbers and feedback comments 
will go a long way toward making this 
online trading venue a safer place for 
you and your pocketbook. 

How Feedback Works 

The eBay feedback system operates 
in a straightforward manner. Every 
time you complete a transaction as ei- 
ther a buyer or a seller, you leave feed- 
back for the other party. This feedback 
is made up of a score of +1, 0, or -1, as 
well as a one-line comment that sums 
up how smoothly — or how poorly — 
the process was completed. 

A +1 means you were happy with 
the way the transaction ended. A 
score is neutral, meaning you weren't 
particularly pleased with the efforts of 
the other person, but you didn't feel 
taken, either. A -1 indicates that you 
were unhappy with the transaction as a 
whole. In addition to the numbered 
score, you can submit a short comment 
that explains the reason for your score. 

As you browse the scores and com- 
ments on eBay, you'll see the vast ma- 
jority of member scores are positive, 
and most have form-letter comments 
that indicate an effortless transaction. 
Neutral scores are relatively rare. Nega- 
tive scores and comments are more 
common than neutral scores. 

eBay users often don't realize the im- 
portance of the feedback system in 
terms of establishing a good reputa- 
tion. Not only do users benefit from 
garnering a lopsided positive- feedback- 
to-negative-feedback ratio, but they 
reap rewards by advancing upward 
through the various star symbols used 
to designate successful users. 

The star symbols displayed next to 
a username show, at a glance, how 
many transactions the user has com- 
pleted with positive feedback. With 
fewer than 10 feedbacks, users remain 
starless. With 10 to 49 positive scores, 
users will receive a yellow star. 

There are many other star symbols, 
but as an example, after an eBay user 
snags anywhere from 500 to 999 posi- 
tive scores, he gets a purple star. Once a 



122 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



LI.miM.IJJII.ILlJ 



user moves into the stratosphere of 
eBay, she'll receive a shooting star that 
indicates she's gathered more than 
10,000 positive scores. eBay sellers who 
reach this level of activity indicate that 
when they achieve a new star status, 
their number of sales increases, often 
dramatically, especially when it's paired 
with an excellent feedback rating. 

Feedback Is Forever 

One of the reasons feedback is so 
important, and so potent, is that once 
you've left a comment, you can't go 
back and edit it later. That means your 
comments, both positive and negative, 
stay online for all eyes to see, for as 
long as that member is active on eBay. 

eBay reserves the right to remove in- 
appropriate comments, such as those 
that use racist or overtly sexual word- 
ing, or those that include hyperlinks. 
However, eBay does not typically delete 
most other comments, even those with 
inflammatory or derogative language. 

When both the buyer and seller 
would like to retract feedback, there is a 
procedure called Mutual Feedback 
Withdrawal, but this option's effect is 
limited. If two parties initially had a 



disagreement about a transaction, but 
they'd like to change the score they left 
for the other person, they can use this 
feature. This removes the score from 
both parties' feedback rating, however, 
it does not delete comments that were 
left, which often makes this option less 
than effective, especially when those 
comments were damaging to a reputa- 
tion. You can start a Mutual Feedback 
Withdrawal request within 30 days of 
either party leaving feedback or within 
90 days after the transaction, whichever 
is later. To start the process, enter the 
item number into the online Mutual 
Feedback Withdrawal form in the 
Feedback Forum. 

The negative curse. Negative feed- 
back, or "negs," in eBay-speak, is 
something to avoid because negs are a 
virtual curse for sellers and buyers. 
Serious eBay users evade bad feedback 
as best they can, and those who depend 
on eBay for a substantial portion of 
their livelihood will stop at almost 
nothing to keep these marks from mar- 
ring their online reputation — there 
have even been reports of long-time 
users hacking their own accounts with 
special software to remove negative 
comments. That's how important it is 



Seller Information Preview Box 



1 



Seller information 

jj midwest media ( 1533 £ ) -]fl Hft* r C\ 



O 



Feedback Score: 1533 
Positive Feedback: 99.5% 
Member since Jul-08-01 in United States 
Read feedback comments 
' Add to Favorite Sellers 

iller a question 
View seller's other items 
Visit tli is seller's eBay Store! 
Midwest Media 



Z^Q PayPal Buyer Protection newi 

Free Coverage now up to $1 ,000. See eligibility . 



^ 



The Seller Information box offers 

you a quick look at the seller's 
statistics. At the top of this box, you 
can see the seller's username and 
total number of positive feedback 
comments. 

2 Not many eBay users reach 
PowerSeller status, but those 
who do sell many products while 
maintaining a positive feedback per- 
centage of 98% or higher. 

3 The preview box also lets you click links to read feedback comments, view the 
seller's other items, ask a question about the item, or add the user to your list 
of favorite sellers. 

This box also indicates the seller qualified for PayPal Buyer Protection, which is 
designed to protect buyers in case a transaction goes sour and the buyer never 

receives the goods. Buyer Protection is offered to excellent sellers and is a sign 

you're dealing with a trustworthy user. 



for eBay users to prevent negative feed- 
back from appearing in their profiles. 

One of the primary reasons for pre- 
venting negative feedback, of course, is 
that a buyer who's browsing for a 
product is likely to skip a seller who has 
more than a couple of recent negative 
comments. Likewise, many sellers will 
cancel the bids of potential buyers who 
have accrued too many negative com- 
ments. The reasoning behind avoiding 
red- marked buyers and sellers is that 
with the millions of people using eBay, 
it's likely you can locate another user 
with an untarnished transaction history 
with which to do business. 

The system often works very well. 
After a seller or buyer accumulates too 
many negative comments, it's less 
likely he'll convince other users to do 
business with him. This trait helps to 
protect innocent and inexperienced 
eBay users who might otherwise be too 
trusting of a reckless or malicious user. 

Retaliatory Feedback 

When you leave feedback for an 
eBay user, he has the option of re- 
sponding in kind, so his comments 
land on your profile. If you leave a 
nasty remark accusing a seller of ex- 
tremely slow shipping, you'll likely see 
an indignant comment denying any 
wrongdoing in your own profile, even 
if your claim was true. 

This kind of retaliatory feedback is 
the reason most users think twice be- 
fore leaving negative comments, even if 
that comment is true. One user posts a 
neg comment for another party, and as 
an act of revenge, the slighted party 
leaves a neg for the first user — in many 
cases, the retaliatory feedback has no 
grounds in truth and is intended only 
to punish one member for leaving a red 
mark on another user's profile. 

Retaliatory feedback is a problem 
because negative feedback of any kind 
carries real weight. Not every buyer or 
seller takes the time to investigate nega- 
tive feedback, preferring instead to find 
another user who doesn't have recent 
angry comments directed at him. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 123 



How To Read Member Profiles 



IThis is the member's 
username with the total 
number of positive feedback 
scores in parentheses. 

2 This box breaks down the 
numbers into specifics. 
Here, you can see when the 
user received positive and 
negative feedback during the 
past year. If any numbers con- 
fuse you, you can click the 
Learn About link on the left 
for an explanation. 

3 To the right of these 
numbers, you can see 



how long this 
person has been a 
member and locate 
other items this 
seller might be 
listing. 



eft i *" i mi i ' 



Member Profile: dromo slave |6] 



Q: 



C>! 



BT.5% 
1 


Matt 
puttM 

Bid B*lfictiflrr9 <F*st6 month*} 





| Under the Profile 
box, you'll see 
feedback comments on four 
different tabs: Feedback 
Received, From Buyers, From 
Sellers, and Left For Others. 
These self-explanatory tabs 
break down comments by 
category to help you deter- 
mine if a particular user is a 



O Pwtnfl pafmanl GMd cemrTiunitil«n CiSr Ift <M* wflh Thank*' 




$»U* il -' ! I 
no long* r t ragiEL-erBd 



better buyer than seller, or 
vice versa. 

In the comments area, 
you can click links to see 
the profiles of sellers and 
buyers who have interacted 
with this member. The more 



legitimate these folks look, 
the more likely it is that the 
member you're investigating 
is an upstanding eBay user. 
You can even click the item 
number of recent auctions 
to see what this member has 
been buying or selling. 



On the other hand, the good news is 
that one or two negative comments 
aren't the kiss of death. The more posi- 
tive feedback comments you have, the 
more unlikely it is that a negative score 
or two will cause you problems. Re- 
member this as you deal with other 
users on the site, but also remember 
the feedback system doesn't work un- 
less you're honest about transactions. 

Fraudulent Feedback 

For years, hucksters have been ma- 
nipulating the feedback system, and if 
you are blind to common feedback 
cons, you're more likely to fall prey to 
unscrupulous sellers and buyers. 

If you're a buyer examining a seller's 
feedback rating, keep a few things in 
mind. Remember that it's not difficult 
for a seller to pump up his feedback 
with a few fraudulent comments. The 
seller can "sell" an imaginary item to a 
friend or family member and then tell 
him to leave a glowing comment on 
how easily the transaction was com- 
pleted. If that's too much trouble, the 
con artist can simply create multiple 
user accounts, make sure one of his 
user IDs winds up as the highest bidder 
on all of his auctions, and then leave as 
much positive feedback as he wants, all 



with the intention of pumping up his 
eBay reputation. 

Sellers with a bit more motivation 
can use legitimate means to pad their 
feedback column. To do so, they sell 
inexpensive items and ship them in a 
speedy manner to garner buyers' 
praises. However, this is all a part of an 
initial setup, and it's one reason you 
should beware of new sellers who sud- 
denly switch from pawning cheap base- 
ball cards to scalping pricey World 
Series tickets. A perfect rating from a 
user with fewer than 20 responses may 
actually make the seller less desirable 
than one who has 100 responses with 
three or four negative marks. 

Read between the lines. The fact 
that fraudulent feedback exists is why 
you should read each comment with a 
critical eye. Ask yourself a few ques- 
tions as you browse a user who has 
fewer than 50 comments. Are the pos- 
itive comments from a range of users 
with solid reputations, or are those 
comments from newer users with the 
same or similar usernames? Does this 
member have a tendency to get nega- 
tive comments for buying, for selling, 
or for both types of transactions? 

Asking these questions will help 
you get a better idea of whom you're 
dealing with and whether you want to 



pursue the transaction. If you can't 
identify an ominous trend, but your 
gut tells you to go elsewhere, move on 
and find another member to do busi- 
ness with — that's part of eBay's ap- 
peal. Just don't count on eBay or any 
other Web entity to protect you from 
scams. eBay punishes the most fla- 
grant abusers, but it's routine for 
smarter con artists to continue their 
ruses unabated for months or years. 

Final Feedback 

eBay's feedback system has its share 
of flaws, but for building trust and 
creating a safer buying and selling en- 
vironment, it's indispensable. How- 
ever, to make the system work best, 
you'll have to learn to read comments 
appropriately to get a better idea of 
how to discern trustworthy users 
from online swindlers. 

Do your research on the items you 
want to buy and check the feedback of 
buyers and sellers before you commit 
to dealing with them. The effort will 
help you avoid financially draining 
scams, give you peace of mind, and 
make eBay a much more productive 
place for you to do business. Qjs] 

by Nathan Chandler 



124 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



LI.miM.IJJII.ILlJ 



When Problems 
Occur 

Responding To Transaction Disputes On eBay 
& How To Avoid Them In The First Place 




Since Web-based auction sites 
came into existence almost 10 
years ago, they have become one 
of the biggest growth industries on 
the Internet. Driving much of this ex- 
plosive growth is eBay, the largest and 
most well-known of all the online 
auction houses. 

eBay has long maintained that less 
than 0.01% of its completed transac- 
tions result in fraud. Considering the 
millions of transactions that occur via 



the auction site per year, the number 
is low, statistically speaking. To put 
things into a better perspective, eBay 
reported a record of more than 348 
million new listings and hosted about 
143,000 stores during the third 
quarter of 2004. 

But online auctions are not without 
their pitfalls. Among the thousands of 
grievances received yearly by the FTC 
(Federal Trade Commission), com- 
plaints dealing with online auction 



fraud consistently rank toward the top 
of the roll. While sellers file the occa- 
sional complaint, buyers file the most. 
Many deal with late shipments, misrep- 
resented products, or failure to ship. 

When things do go wrong during 
an eBay trade, it is normally a case of 
a seller embellishing the quality or the 
description of an item. For buyers, it 
is often a case of failing to honor their 
winning bid as required when an auc- 
tion is won. Buyers must pay for the 
items that they commit to purchase. 

Regardless of whether you are a 
buyer or a seller on eBay, compre- 
hending how Internet auctions func- 
tion can help you steer clear of 
problems. Yet, even with the best of ef- 
forts, things can still go wrong. When 
they do, eBay offers some remedial ac- 
tions, but you as a participant are also 
expected to take an active role. 

eBay's Role 

eBay's position is that it acts as a 
venue for buyers and sellers to get to- 
gether and take part in commerce. 
While eBay has a dispute resolution 
service, it is not without some restric- 
tions. The circumstances detailing 
your dispute do not really matter, as 
eBay requires you to follow the same 
procedures regardless of the specifics 
of a contested situation. Before begin- 
ning the filing process, it's a good idea 
for buyers and sellers alike to under- 
stand the types of actions eBay will 
and will not take: 

What eBay does: 

• Encourages members to communi- 
cate directly with their trading part- 
ners when a dispute first occurs. 

• Provides an online Fraud Alert 
form for buyers to report suspi- 
cious activity and to use as a forum 
to resolve transactions. 

• Upon receiving a report of suspi- 
cious activity, eBay will warn, sus- 
pend, or sanction as necessary any 
accounts that violate its policies. 

• May subsidize a portion of the 
cost of a professional mediator 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 125 



Safety & Security 



through SquareTrade, eBay's pre- 
ferred online dispute resolution 
provider. 

Provides reimbursement to buyers 
up to $200 (minus $25 to cover 
processing costs) for loss from 
nondelivery or misrepresentation 
through the Protection Claim 
process. 

Cooperates with law en- 
forcement investigations. 
Law enforcement agencies 
can report information to 
eBay using its law-enforce- 
ment-specific Web form. 
However, buyers or sellers 
need to direct their fraud- 
related inquiries through 
the Buyer Protection Pro- 
gram page on eBay. 



review the report, seek input from the 
seller on the claim, and take appro- 
priate disciplinary action. Buyers can 
then file a Protection Claim in cases of 
nonshipment or significant misrepre- 
sentation, provided the items pur- 
chased meet the Protection Claim 
eligibility requirements. 



ctfy'r^^i^i 




What eBay does not do: 

• Take direct action on a 
member's behalf. For ex- 
ample, eBay personnel will 
not contact a member di- 
rectly to ask about the status of 
an item. 

• Force a member to live up to 
his obligation. 

• Contact law enforcement on your 
behalf to resolve disputes. 

Fraud Alert 

If you sent payment for an auc- 
tion you won and did not receive 
your item, or you received an item 
the seller significantly misrepre- 
sented, eBay recommends that you 
contact the seller and work to re- 
solve the situation. If that does not 
work, eBay encourages buyers to use 
an outside mediation service such as 
SquareTrade. (For more information 
about using SquareTrade, see "When 
Good Deals Go Bad" on page 130.) 
After taking these steps, if you are 
unable to resolve the matter, eBay 
encourages buyers to file 
a Fraud Alert, which will initiate 
your claim. 

If you file a Fraud Alert, eBay will 
request detailed information from you, 



eBay's Security & Resolution Center has a host of tools for 
reporting problems, as well as tips and resources for buying, 
paying, and selling. 



eBay offers two levels for coverage 
of smaller transactions. For most 
items, eBay covers you up to $200 
(minus a $25 processing fee) in the 
event that you don't receive your item 
or it is significantly different than de- 
scribed. If the buyer and seller have 
accounts in good standing and meet 
certain other qualifications, buyers 
can recover up to $175 per transac- 
tion if their goods never arrive. If they 
made payment through eBay's PayPal 
service, they can recover as much as 
$500. PayPal also offers additional 
coverage, up to $1,000, when you 
buy from a PayPal-qualified seller. 
According to PayPal, it handles pay- 
ment for one in four winning auc- 
tions on eBay. (For more information 
on using PayPal Buyer Protection, see 
"PayPal Protection For Buyers & 
Sellers" on page 133.) For greater 
amounts of insurance for online auc- 
tions, buyers are on their own. 

In addition to the remedies that 
eBay offers, there are some other av- 
enues you can explore if you feel you 
are the victim of fraud. 



Depending upon the circum- 
stances, such as the item in question, 
the amount of loss, or the level of 
fraud, you may want to contact your 
local police department. Better yet, 
try to contact the police where the 
person committing the fraud lives. 
Each jurisdiction has its own formal 
(or not-so-formal) proce- 
dures for handling such 
cases. Although you most 
likely will not get your money 
back, you at least will be re- 
porting the fraud to the au- 
thorities. There may be other 
victims, as well, and each per- 
son's story will help to build 
a case. Even with the best of 
intentions, however, do not 
be surprised if the police tell 
you they can't help you. 
Depending upon the circum- 
stances, you may also be able 
to seek assistance from the 

U.S. Postal Service, the FTC, 

or the FBI. 
If your transaction was with an 
online store, lodge a complaint 
with the Better Business Bureau 
(www.bbb .org). Investigate the store 
and see if it is listed with any other 
business organizations. If it is, lodge 
a complaint with them. 

You always have the option of 
consulting an attorney. Of course, 
this option is something that is usu- 
ally left for large transactions in ex- 
treme cases. Nonetheless, it is some- 
thing to consider. Sometimes a 
simple letter on legal stationary can 
work wonders. 

Ways To Avoid Problems 

Undeniably the best way to handle 
problems and complaints is to try to 
avoid them in the first place. And if 
you are a frequent eBay lister (or 
buyer, for that matter), always re- 
member that an occasional transac- 
tion will invariably go wrong. 

Major auction services recom- 
mend buyers avoid wiring money 
through services such as Western 



126 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Buyer Protection On eBay 




Preliminary Steps 






Step 


Explanation 


Time Frame 


1. Call your seller 


Request your seller's contact information 


First 15 days after the 




and contact them by phone. Some issues 


listing ends 




are just simple misunderstandings that 




2. Report suspicious 


can be resolved with a single phone call. 




Notify eBay when you paid for and re- 


Anytime 


activity 


ceived a significantly misrepresented item 
or you paid for but did not receive an item. 




3. Try third-party 


Try dispute resolution through 


First 30 days after the 


dispute resolution 


SquareTrade. 


auction listing ends 


4. Contact payment 


PayPal: If you paid using PayPal, your 


First 30 days after the 


provider 


item may have enhanced protection 
through its buyer protection program. 
Credit Card: If you paid using a credit card, 
contact the customer service department. 
Many issuers provide some form of trans- 
action protection. 


auction listing ends 


Invoking eBay's Standard Purchase Protection Program 




Step 


Explanation 


Time Frame 


1. File a Fraud Alert 


The eBay standard purchase protection 


Between 30 and 60 




program provides partial reimbursement 


days after the auction 




for losses resulting from nondelivery or 


listing ends 




misrepresentation of most items up to 






$200 minus a $25 processing cost. 






Filing a Fraud Alert is the initial step to- 






ward any potential reimbursement via the 






eBay program. 




2. File a Protection Claim 


Once the Fraud Alert has been processed 


After filing a Fraud 




and approved, eBay will provide you 


Alert but postmarked 




with instructions on how to file a 


within 90 days of the 




Protection Claim. 


end of the auction 




If you made your purchase using a credit 


listing 




card, you must file a claim with the issuer 






before filing a claim with eBay. 





Union, because there's no guarantee 
the seller will ship the goods once 
the money is received, and Western 
Union offers no protection. As an al- 
ternative, eBay recommends using 
online escrow businesses. An escrow 
business receives and then holds the 
payment until the goods are deliv- 
ered, and most also have dispute res- 
olution procedures in place. 

eBay does not offer a list of 
approved escrow businesses, so 
the buyer must conduct her own 



research. Be cautious of sellers sug- 
gesting or requiring that a specific 
escrow business be used. The FBI 
says fake online escrow services 
themselves are one of the biggest on- 
line cons of the last year. Such ser- 
vices can be official-looking sites set 
up by unscrupulous sellers them- 
selves. If a seller insists on using an 
online escrow service, you should 
not consider using it unless it is 
listed with the Better Business 
Bureau online. 



Here are some additional tips you 
can use to avoid problems: 

For Buyers 

Before Bidding: 

• Read and understand eBay's trans- 
action rules before placing a bid or 
putting an item up for auction. 

• Read and understand eBay's reso- 
lution policies. Research what 
protections eBay offers to buyers 
and sellers. 

• Know exactly what you're bidding 
on. Read the seller's description of 
the item or service and, if a photo- 
graph is posted, review it carefully. 
Read the fine print. Look for words 
such as "refurbished," "close-out," 
"discontinued," or "off-brand" — 
especially when shopping for com- 
puter or electronics equipment — to 
get a better idea of the condition of 
the item being auctioned. 

• Try to verify the relative value of an 
item before you place a bid. Be 
skeptical if the price sounds too low 
to be realistic. View auctions from 
other sellers and do price compar- 
ison with both online and retail 
outlets. Such comparisons are good 
for reality checks. As the saying 
goes, if something seems too good 
to be true, it probably is. 

• Research the seller. Avoid doing 
business with sellers you are unable 
to identify, especially those who try 
to lure you offline with promises of a 
better deal. Be aware that some 
fraudulent sellers may use a forged 
email header that makes follow-up 
difficult, if not impossible. Get the 
seller's phone number so you have 
another way to get in touch. Dial the 
number to confirm it is correct. 

• Review feedback ratings and com- 
ments. Although these comments 
and ratings may give you some idea 
of how you'll be treated, know that 
sometimes, comments may be sub- 
mitted by the seller or those 
working on his behalf. 

• Find out who pays for shipping and 
delivery. Generally, sellers specify 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 127 



Safety & Security 



the cost of shipping and give buyers 
the option for express delivery at an 
additional cost. Keep alert for ship- 
ping costs that seem grossly in- 
flated. The same caution should be 
exercised when considering those 
notorious "handling fees" that are 
often listed separately from ship- 
ping costs. If you're uncertain 
about shipping costs, check with 
the seller before you bid. 
Read and understand the seller's re- 
turn policy. Can you return the 
item for a full refund if you're not 
satisfied with it? If you return it, are 
you required to pay shipping costs 
or a restocking fee? 
Email or call the seller if you have 
any questions. Do not place bids 
until you get satisfactory answers. 

When Bidding 

Establish the absolute maximum 
price you are willing to pay and 
then stick to that maximum. This 
can help ensure that you get a fair 
price and protect you from shill 
bidding. Don't bid on an item you 
do not really intend to buy. If 
you're the highest bidder, you're 
obligated to follow through with 
the transaction. 



Additional Reading 



Better Business Bureau: 

bbbonline.org 

eBay Security & Resolution Center: 

pages.ebay.com/securitycenter 

FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint 
Center: www.ifccfbi.gov 

FTCs (Federal Trade Commission's) 
Internet Auctions: A Guide For 
Buyers And Sellers: 

www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs 
/online/auctions.htm 

PayPal: www.paypal.com 

SquareTrade: www.squaretrade.com 



As is recommended for any type of 
financial transaction, keep a log of 
all information. Print or save the 
seller's identification; the item de- 
scription; and the time, date, and 
price you bid on the item. Print and 
save every email you send and re- 
ceive from the auction company or 
the seller. Having good documenta- 
tion will help to strengthen your 
position should an issue occur. 

Before Paying 

Know and understand what form of 
payment the seller accepts. If the 
seller accepts only cashier's checks or 
money orders, decide whether you're 
willing to risk sending your payment 
before you receive the product. 
Protect your privacy. Never provide 
your Social Security number, dri- 
ver's license number, credit card 
number, or bank account informa- 
tion until you have checked out the 
seller and the online payment or es- 
crow service, if you're using one, to 
ensure legitimacy. 

If the seller insists on using a partic- 
ular escrow or online payment ser- 
vice you've never heard of, do some 
research first to make sure it is le- 
gitimate. Before you agree to use 
any online payment or escrow ser- 
vice, read the service's terms of 
agreement. Never disclose financial 
or personal information unless you 
know why it's being collected, how 
it will be used, and how it will be 
safeguarded. 

To limit your exposure, consider re- 
serving a separate credit card to use 
just for online transactions. Make 
sure the credit card also offers some 
form of buyer's protection. 
Check with the Better Business 
Bureau, state attorney general, or 
consumer protection agency (where 
you live and where the online pay- 
ment or escrow service is based) to 
see whether there are any unresolved 
complaints against the service. Keep 
in mind that a lack of complaints 
doesn't necessarily mean that a ser- 
vice has no problems. 



For Sellers 

Know Your Legal Obligations 

• According to the FTC, you are re- 
quired to ship merchandise within 
the time frame specified during the 
auction, or, if a time frame is not 
specified, within 30 days. If you are 
unable to meet the shipping com- 
mitment, you must give the buyer 
an opportunity to cancel the order 
for a full refund or agree to the new 
shipping date. 

Advertising Your Product 

• If you say something is new, it must 
be new, even if you say you are 
selling it as is. If you show a photo 
in an eBay listing, you must deliver 
the object shown in the photo- 
graph, not just one like it. 

• If you use a copy of a photo from a 
manufacturer's Web site or shoot a 
photo of another specimen, you 
must disclose that the photo is only 
representational and not of the ac- 
tual item. 

• When describing your item and its 
condition, state whether it is new, 
used, or reconditioned. You should 
disclose the general condition and 
any hidden defects. 

• Anticipate questions potential 
buyers might have and address 
them in the description of your 
item or service. 

• Specify the minimum bid at the 
lowest fair price you're willing 
to accept. 

• Specify who pays for shipping, and 
note if you'll ship internationally. 

• Offer a generous return policy. The 
overhead cost alone in a dispute ex- 
ceeds what you might lose from 
taking a return. Accepting returns 
is a simple and easy way to add gen- 
uine value to what you sell. It does 
require that you be complete, fac- 
tual, and conservative in your 
listing descriptions so you don't 
tempt buyers to be justifiably upset. 

• Set reasonable expectations for 
shipping costs. Sellers should 
make sure they do not list absurd 



128 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



LI.miM.IJJII.ILlJ 



Seller Protection On eBay 



Step 

1. Seller files an Unpaid 
Item dispute 



2. eBay contacts 
the buyer 



3. Closing the dispute 



Explanation 

Buyers are required to pay for items that 
they have committed to purchase via any 
form of auction. 

eBay sends the buyer an electronically gener- 
ated email and displays a pop-up message. 
eBay provides the buyer with several dif- 
ferent options: 

• Pay Now: Closes the dispute 

• I Already Paid: If payment has already 
been made, the buyer may provide details 
of the payment for review 

• Communicate With The Seller: The buyer 
and seller can attempt to resolve the 
dispute directly in an eBay-provided 
message area. 

If the buyer does not respond to the notifica- 
tions, the seller may file for a Final Value Fee 
credit and the seller becomes eligible for a 
free auction relist credit. 
The seller can close the dispute after the 
buyer has responded at least one time, or if 
the buyer does not respond. 



Time Frame 

Up to 45 days after the transaction date; the seller must usually wait 
seven days after an auction listing has closed before filing 

Once active, a dispute can only be open for 60 days 

After 60 days, the dispute will close automatically with no action taken 
Within 14 days of filing of the Unpaid Item dispute 



Buyer has seven days to respond to the notifications from eBay 



shipping costs, especially for inex- 
pensive items. 

Dealing With Bidders 

Respond as quickly as possible to 
bidders' questions. 
When the auction closes, print all in- 
formation about the transaction, in- 
cluding the buyer's identification; a 
description of the item; and the date, 
time, and price of the bid. Save a 
copy of every email you send and re- 
ceive from the auction site or the 
successful bidder. Having good doc- 
umentation will help to strengthen 
your position should an issue occur. 
Contact the winning bidder as soon 
as possible after the auction closes; 
confirm the final cost, including 
shipping charges; and tell the buyer 
where to send payment. 

Arranging For Payment 

If you accept credit card payments 
from the buyer directly, bill the 
credit card account only after you 
have shipped the product. 



If a buyer insists on using a partic- 
ular escrow or online payment ser- 
vice that you have never heard of, 
check it out. Visit its Web site. Call 
the customer service line. If there 
isn't one, or if you call but are unable 
to reach someone, do not use the 
service. 

If it's an online payment service, 
find out who pays for credit card 
charge-backs or transaction reversal 
requests if the buyer seeks them. 
Examine the service's privacy policy 
and security measures. Never dis- 
close financial or personal informa- 
tion unless you know why it's being 
collected, how it will be used, and 
how it will be safeguarded. 
Be suspicious of an online escrow 
service that cannot process its own 
transactions and requires you to set 
up accounts with online payment 
services. Legitimate escrow services 
never do this. 

Check with the Better Business 
Bureau, state attorney general, or 
consumer protection agency (where 



you live and where the online pay- 
ment or escrow service is based) to 
see whether there are any unresolved 
complaints against the service. 

Ongoing Flea Market 

While eBay is an ongoing flea 
market of huge proportions and as- 
tonishing depth, actual fraudulent 
dealings are relatively and statistically 
rare. eBay should best be considered 
as simply a marketplace where people 
come together to engage in com- 
merce. As with any form of com- 
merce, it is important for the buyer 
and seller to effectively communicate. 
If you understand the rules and, 
above all, use some general common 
sense, you can protect yourself in 
most circumstances and ultimately 
enjoy the buying and selling process. 
But for those times when fraud does 
occur, rest assured that you may have 
some options available to you. @ 

by Joseph Pasquini 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 129 



Safety & Security 




iii 



When 
Deals Go Bad 



SquareTrade Ensures Fair Trade 




As any seasoned buyer or seller 
can attest, Murphy's Law is no 
stranger to the eBay experience. 
If you're interested in doing business 
on eBay, there's a good possibility that, 
sooner or later, something will go 
wrong. As a buyer, you can end up 
with a bad deal even if you've carefully 
chosen your item, scrutinized the list- 
ing, researched the seller's feedback, 
and chosen a secure payment method. 
Sellers are also vulnerable to the occa- 
sional problem, such as a nonpaying 
bidder or an unfair feedback comment. 
When both buyer and seller feel they 



have reached a stalemate, it's time to 
call in a mediator. 

The Skinny On SquareTrade.com 

Established in 1999, SquareTrade's 
mission is to "build trust in transac- 
tions" by offering services to users that 
engage in online commerce. Square- 
Trade's links with eBay go way back, 
but the company is not a subsidiary of 
the auction site. Other retailers that 
use SquareTrade include eLance, 
econsumer.gov, and Al Vacations. 
Conventional real estate is another 



form of commerce that uses Square- 
Trade's services. SquareTrade's two 
primary services, the SquareTrade Seal 
Program and Online Dispute Resolu- 
tion, are available to eBay users (and 
others for that matter) on a free-but- 
limited basis. We'll explain just how 
limited the free services are below, but 
first let's take a closer look at what 
SquareTrade can do for you. 

Seal of approval. Sellers can use the 
SquareTrade Seal to show potential 
buyers that they are trustworthy. 
Users that display the SquareTrade 
Seal have passed SquareTrade's verifi- 
cation process, which entails more 
than just a decent feedback score. To 
get SquareTrade's seal, sellers must 
have a verified identity and maintain 
a good dispute resolution history. 
SquareTrade also requires that veri- 
fied sellers adhere to a list of selling 
standards that include responding 
to disputes, abiding by the original 
terms of sale and dispute resolution 
agreements, providing clear and accu- 
rate item listings, offering only al- 
lowed and legal items, disclosing 
contact information, and defining a 
privacy policy. SquareTrade President 
and CEO Steve Abernethy says that 
verified sellers that don't adhere to 
the standards get the boot. 

SquareTrade started its Buyer Pro- 
tection Policy as a way for sellers to 
give buyers extra confidence in their 
online purchases. Verified sellers can 
insure any item against loss by desig- 
nating a certain level of protection 
within each item listing, which is 
expressed as a monetary figure. Pro- 
vided the transaction meets the 
laundry list of requirements found at 
www.squaretrade.com/cnt/jsp/sap/fpg 
.jsp, buyers can receive reparations 
up to the predetermined amount if 
something goes wrong. 

SquareTrade charges $7.50 per 
month to use its seal. You can also sign 
up for a SquareTrade Professional Seal, 
which entitles you to discounts on the 
mediator service, as well as a personal- 
ized Professional Trust Profile, which 
reassures potential buyers that you are 



130 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



LI.miM.IJJII.ILlJ 



i 



©- 



-©- 



use Square latfs 
Jidvanced Ih lino ; j .■ 



J' 



: optional f 



' - MEDIAT 



O 



CASE 
RESOLVED 



SquareTrade's Online Dispute 
Resolution system has a 
simple four-step approach. 



in good standing with SquareTrade. 
The SquareTrade Professional Seal pro- 
gram is $25 per month after the initial 
30-day free trial. 

What's Your Beef? 

The SquareTrade Online Dispute 
Resolution service is a program de- 
signed to resolve simple miscommu- 
nication issues or misunderstandings 
that could lead to negative feedback. 
Even after negative feedback has been 
posted, both the buyer and seller can 
come together with the help of 
SquareTrade and perhaps decide to 
remove the negative comments from 
eBay's feedback system. 

It comes as no surprise that only the 
most basic dispute resolution features 
come free of charge, but even non- 
subscribers can file cases and use 
SquareTrade's Direct Negotiation 
process. If necessary, you can enlist the 
help of a certified mediator for a small 
one-time fee of $20 for eBay members. 

Dispute resolution 101. The first 
step in SquareTrade's Dispute Resolu- 
tion system actually has nothing to do 
with SquareTrade, but it is the most 
crucial. Using eBay's seller and buyer 
contact forms, you should do whatever 
you can to convey to the other party 
that you are interested in resolving the 
issue. If the other party also desires to 
find a solution, then you are in busi- 
ness. But there's not much you can do 
if the other party doesn't want to re- 
solve the dispute and is content with 
the negative feedback. When both par- 
ties are interested in a resolution, and 
have reached an impasse using eBay's 
system, it's time to bring the baggage 
to SquareTrade and file a case. 

Open case. Filing a case with 
SquareTrade starts with a visit to 
www.squaretrade.com. Buyers, before 
proceeding to the Dispute Resolution 



center, check to see if your disputed 
eBay transaction was offered by a 
SquareTrade-verified seller. If so, you 
may be entitled to the Buyer Protection 
plan, which can refund some or all of 
your money (pending eligibility). The 
case filing process takes about 10 min- 
utes to complete. 

To file a case, click the Dispute Res- 
olution link at the top of the page, and 
then click the File A Case option. The 
next page asks you to indicate where 
the transaction took place. Click eBay 
and then the Next button. Users that 
already have a SquareTrade password 
can simply log in and file a new case. If 
you're new to SquareTrade, you'll have 
to click the New User Sign In link. The 
Account Verification page will direct 
you to click Continue to verify your 
eBay account information. Next, enter 
your eBay username and password and 
then click the Sign In Securely button. 
The SquareTrade Authorization page 
will ask for your consent to continue. 
Click Agree And Continue to go back 
to the File A Case page on Square- 
Trade's Web site. 

Your eBay username is also your de- 
fault SquareTrade username, which 
should appear in the top field of the 
File A Case page. Type a new password 
into the appropriate field, and then 
confirm your password in the fol- 
lowing field. Click Next, fill out the 
About You and the Transaction Details 
fields, and then click Submit. The next 
page asks you to enter the other party's 
eBay user ID and email address. After 
doing so, click Submit again, and then 
indicate whether your problem is re- 
lated to feedback, merchandise, or pay- 
ment issues. You can also use this form 
to report eBay policy violations, nega- 
tive feedback threats, and nonrespon- 
sive sellers or buyers. A text box on this 
page lets you elaborate on your 
problem with up to 1,000 characters, 



but keep in mind that the other party 
will see this information, as well. When 
you're finished, click Submit. 

The next step involves identifying 
potential solutions for your dispute. 
Here you can ask for a full refund or 
ask the seller for help with tracing a 
payment, filing an insurance claim, or 
contacting the shipping company. 



eBay's Dispute 
Console 






If you're looking for a way to re- 
port disputes, head on over to 
eBay's Dispute Console. To access 
this feature, click the link for the Site 
Map at the bottom of any eBay 
page. Scan the middle column for 
the Manage My Items For Sale sub- 
heading. Click the Dispute Console 
link and sign in using your eBay User 
ID and password. This page lists your 
filed disputes involving unpaid items 
and items not received. If you 
haven't filed a dispute you will see 
the message, "There are no disputes 
to display." 

To file a dispute, click the relevant 
link for Items Not Received Process 
or Unpaid Item Process, which leads 
to a Help page that describes when 
you as a buyer or seller have a valid 
dispute. For instance, if as a seller 
you have not received payment 
within seven days of the end of the 
auction, and fewer than 45 days has 
passed, then you can fill out the dis- 
pute form to get your listing fees re- 
funded. A valid Unpaid Item dispute 
will also give the buyer a strike, and 
after three strikes, eBay will suspend 
the account. All active disputes ap- 
pear on the main Dispute Console 
page with the transaction date, the 
dispute date, the other party's user 
ID, the current status of the dispute, 
actions taken, and whether or not 
you are eligible for credit. You can 
also find out more information 
about eBay's dispute policies from 
the Related Links on the left side of 
the Dispute Console page. I 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 131 



y % SQUARE 1 

File A Case 



Dispute Resolution 



GO preferred dispute resolution provider! 



Case Details: 




1 
1 


eBay User ID: 


SquareTrade Password: 




Why do you need it? 

^^^^HX Remember my login. 





o New user si 

Set/Reset 
password 

Q Suspended eBay 
User 

Click here for FAQ 
help 



* 



SquareTrade has handled over one million 
disputes. 



'_ 



9 We value your privacy and safety. You are protected by our confidentiality policy & secure 
SSL encryption. 



This site is to be used only in conjunction with a bona fide disp wrized use of 

SquareTrade's ODR Services or materials is ILLEGAL and a VIOLATION OF 
SQUARETRADE'S INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. ( ODR User Agreement ). 



Alt contents ©1999-2005 by SquareTrade 



The Dispute Resolution process starts with creating 
an account. 



The dispute form includes a text box 
for a more detailed description of 
your desired resolution. 

To Mediate Or Not To Mediate 

The next page lets you decide 
whether to enlist the help of a mediator 
to resolve your dispute. At press time, 
the mediator fee was $20 per case for 
eBay users. SquareTrade only collects 
the fee from the party that filed the 
case, and only if the second party 
agrees to the mediation. By clicking File 
With A Mediator, you submit your 
case for review by one of SquareTrade's 
trained mediators, who will work with 
both parties to resolve the problem. 

To use SquareTrade's Dispute Res- 
olution system to discuss the issue 
without the help of a mediator, click 
the link under Proceed Without Re- 
view By SquareTrade. An alert pops up 
to confirm that you would like to file 
the case but don't want the help of a 
third party; click OK to confirm. The 
last screen tells you that your case 
has been successfully filed and that 
SquareTrade has notified the other 
party via email. You will also receive a 
confirmation email. SquareTrade will 



notify you when the other 
party has responded. If 
seven days pass without a 
response, SquareTrade will 
send you a status email. 

Response Time 

SquareTrade's email to 
the other party features the 
claimant's eBay user ID in 
the subject line. The mes- 
sage also includes a few de- 
tails about the transaction in 
question, such as the item 
description, auction num- 
ber, reported problem, as 
well as a link to Help Re- 
solve The Issue, which we'll 
discuss below. The message 
informs the second party 

that the Dispute Resolution 

service is free to use, totally 
voluntary, quick, easy, and provides ac- 
cess to an objective third-party medi- 
ator, should the need arise. 

After two weeks, if the second party 
hasn't responded to any of the auto- 
matic dispute messages, SquareTrade 
closes the file. SquareTrade can't force 
the second party to participate in the 
voluntary process, so you may be out 
of luck. If the second party responds 
after the two weeks have passed, 
SquareTrade will reopen the case. If 
the terms of your dispute involve re- 
moving negative feedback, and the 
second party does not respond within 
two weeks, you may be eligible to have 
the feedback removed with the help of 
a mediator. If the mediator can't get 
the negative feedback comment re- 
moved, SquareTrade will refund your 
money. For more information about 
how feedback is withdrawn, visit 
www.squaretrade.com/cnt/jsp/hlp/odr 
.jsp and click the How Is Feedback 
Withdrawn? link. 

Most parties respond within the 
first week. To move forward, the 
second party can click the Help 
Resolve The Issue link in the email 
from SquareTrade. This opens the 
Respond To The Problem page. This 



page includes the comments left by 
the claimant and lets the second party 
mark checkboxes requesting that neg- 
ative feedback be withdrawn, offering 
to withdraw negative feedback under 
the right circumstances, or requesting 
the assistance of a professional medi- 
ator. There is also a comment field 
that lets the second party offer pos- 
sible solutions or additional details 
about the disputed transaction. 

As the second party, you should 
check the appropriate box and click 
Submit to send a response to the 
claimant. You can then click the Go To 
My Cases link at the bottom of the re- 
sulting page to bring up the ODR 
system login page. If you are a Square- 
Trade user, you can log in using your 
existing password. If not, enter your 
email address, leave the password field 
blank, and click Submit. The Reset My 
SquareTrade Password screen lets you 
send yourself an email to change your 
password. With a new password, you 
can check the case status, send mes- 
sages to the claimant, or close the case 
if the dispute has been resolved. 

Case Closed 

SquareTrade's negotiation system is 
a bit like playing tag. You leave a mes- 
sage, then the other party tags you with 
a response. If you feel like you're going 
in circles, the various email notices 
from SquareTrade provide ample op- 
portunity to click your way toward en- 
gaging a mediator. Steve Abernethy 
emphasized that SquareTrade's media- 
tors are no Judge Judy, but merely offer 
a voice for the peaceable but non- 
binding resolution of disputes. 

Even if you do everything suggested 
within these pages to prevent your pur- 
chases or sales from going awry, you 
will probably not circumvent Murphy's 
Law. If a problem does arise, you may 
have to call in a third party, and 
SquareTrade is the place to start. We 
guarantee filing a lawsuit will cost you a 
heck of a lot more than 20 bucks. H 

by Andrew Leibman 



132 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



LI.miM.IJJII.ILlJ 



PayPal 

Protection For 

Buyers & Sellers 

A Safe Way To Send Money Through The Mail 




On eBay, there's no accounting 
for taste — or for trust. So, 
many eBay users turn to an 
electronic money transfer service 
called PayPal. 

PayPal enables anybody with an 
email address to send or receive 
money using a special account the 
company maintains for the user. 
Founded in 1998 as an independent 
company, PayPal was acquired by 
eBay in 2002. Last year, notes Sara 
Bettencourt, a spokesperson for 
PayPal, the company expanded inter- 
nationally, launching local versions of 



PayPal in eight countries, using native 
currencies and native languages. For 
example, a German PayPal site has 
content written in German and lets 
users pay with euros. Today, PayPal is 
available in 45 countries. 

The PayPal service is tied to a user's 
bank account or credit card and is 
backed by liquid cash kept by the 
company in a Wells Fargo bank ac- 
count of its own, Bettencourt says. 

Sending money through PayPal is 
free. All you have to do to pay for an 
auction item you've won is click the 
Pay Now button within the listing page 



of the item offered for sale, if the seller 
has opted to receive a payment from 
PayPal. The button links the buyer di- 
rectly to the PayPal service. Or, a seller 
may send an invoice to a buyer in an 
email message that contains instruc- 
tions on how to pay with PayPal. 

PayPal works like an online wallet. 
When a buyer uses a PayPal account 
to send money to a seller, she can 
choose to send money from a stored 
PayPal balance, money withdrawn 
from a bank account, or money 
charged to a credit card. 

Receiving money also is free if the 
recipient has a Personal account with 
PayPal. A Personal account cannot ac- 
cept credit card payments. To receive 
a credit card payment, the recipient 
must upgrade to a Business or a 
Premier account with PayPal. There is 
a per-transaction fee to receive money 
in a Business or Premier account, re- 
gardless of how the money is sent. 
There is no setup fee or maintenance 
fee for those accounts, but the associ- 
ated per-transaction fee ranges from 
30 cents plus 1.9% to 30 cents plus 
2.9%, depending on the amount of 
money received monthly, for transac- 
tions in U.S. funds. For transactions in 
foreign funds, different fees apply. 

Payments through PayPal are sent 
and received instantly. But is PayPal 
safe to use? 

Secure Your Funds 

According to Bettencourt, the com- 
pany has quite a few mechanisms in 
place to protect both buyers and 
sellers who use PayPal on eBay. In ad- 
dition, PayPal is directly linked to the 
eBay dispute resolution process. 

"All that the [money] recipient sees 
is your email address," Bettencourt 
assures. PayPal does not reveal your 
personal financial information. 
Nevertheless, eBay is "not a hermeti- 
cally sealed marketplace," she says. 
There are bad people on eBay who lie 
and cheat. 

Therefore, PayPal offers the PayPal 
Buyer Protection Program, which is 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 133 



Safety & Security 



available on eBay's sites for the United 
States, the United Kingdom, Canada, 
and Germany. It is identified by a 
shield icon in the Seller Information 
box on a specific eBay auction item or 
in the PayPal column of a list of auc- 
tions, indicating coverage. 

With the program, if the buyer 
does not receive the purchased item, 
or if the item is "significantly not as 
described," then the buyer may have 
the purchase price reimbursed, up to 
$1,000. (The Buyer Protection Pro- 
gram's maximum coverage amount is 
£500 on the eBay U.K. site, $1,250 
CAD on the eBay Canada site, and 
€ 400 on the eBay Germany site.) 

"Significantly not as described" 
means, for example, that an item ad- 
vertised as new is received in a used 
condition. The term applies to a mis- 
representation of the item that "af- 
fects its value or usability," according 
to PayPal's Buyer Complaint Policy. 

Sellers don't have to pay to offer 
the Buyer Protection Program to 
buyers. But a seller can only add it to 
a listing only if the seller has a good 
track record, verified by 50 "feedback 
points" from people who have pro- 
vided mostly positive feedback to 
eBay. The feedback must be at least 
98% positive. The points can come 
from either new or repeat customers. 
As of November 2004, PayPal Buyer 
Protection was available with 80% of 
items listed on eBay.com. 

After sending the payment, buyers 
have 45 days to file a complaint. 
Upon receiving the complaint, PayPal 
will work with both the buyer and the 
seller to resolve the problem, and 
PayPal will take the financial hit to re- 
imburse the buyer, if necessary, 
Bettencourt says. 

If an item is not covered by PayPal 
Buyer Protection, the buyer may still 
file a complaint under the PayPal 
Buyer Complaint process. In this case, 
PayPal will mediate to try to resolve 
the problem. 

Finally, the eBay Standard Purchase 
Protection Program will reimburse a 
buyer up to $200, minus a $25 



processing fee. It is offered on all eBay 
transactions but is really aimed at 
transactions not covered by PayPal 
Buyer Protection. Buyers should first 
go for items covered by PayPal Buyer 
Protection, Bettencourt advises. 

If a buyer is denied reimburse- 
ment under the Standard Purchase 
Protection Program, and if the pay- 
ment was made through a credit card, 
the buyer's next step would be to dis- 
pute the charge with the credit card 
company. PayPal's Buyer Complaint 
Policy prohibits the user from filing 
claims with both PayPal and his credit 
card company simultaneously and 
prohibits collecting double reim- 
bursement from the two. 

Buyers may file complaints by 
filling out an online form at the 
PayPal Web site. Also, PayPal is inte- 
grated with eBay's Resolution Center, 
where the status of a complaint can be 
found. The Resolution Center is ac- 
cessible through the PayPal user's 



Account Overview page. Resolution 
can take between 45 and 60 days, 
Bettencourt says. 

Save Our Sellers 

Sellers also are protected by PayPal. 
The Seller Protection Policy covers 
sellers for up to $5,000 on transac- 
tions that may be fraudulent; if, for 
example, a buyer disputes a credit 
card charge after receiving the item in 
the promised condition. 

Under the Seller Protection Policy, 
sellers must follow certain steps and 
provide PayPal with some required in- 
formation. Then PayPal will act on the 
seller's behalf to resolve the dispute. 

There is no charge for this protec- 
tion, but the seller must have a "veri- 
fied" Premier or Business account, and 
the item must be shipped to a con- 
firmed address. Also, the seller must 
retain and provide proof that the ship- 
ment was made, such as a FedEx 



Buyer Safety Tips For PayPal Users On eBay 



For the most part, PayPal is a safe and efficient way for buyers to pay for eBay 
auctions they've won, and it's an easy way to pay for other things, as well. But 
PayPal users should keep the following tips in mind: 

• Buyers should review and study a seller's feedback according to the guidelines 
provided by eBay. Buyers should read through the comments and note the 
Member Since date. A buyer should contact other users who have dealt with a 
particular seller if that buyer has questions about the feedback. 

• Buyers should read the item listing carefully, especially the item description, pay- 
ment terms, shipping terms, and return/refund policies. Ask for proof of authen- 
ticity, appraisals, or proof of other claims made on an item listing. 

• Buyers should not undertake transactions about which they would feel uncom- 
fortable in their regular life off the Web. Buyers should also not agree to enter 
into a transaction off the eBay platform. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it 
probably is. 

• Buyers should use PayPal Buyer Protection whenever possible. PayPal Buyer 
Protection is a free program that offers increased security on eBay by covering 
buyers up to $1,000 for nondelivery of items or products that are delivered not as 
described. The buyer simply needs to look for the PayPal buyer protection logo 
on the item listing to buy with confidence. 

• For higher-priced items, buyers should use PayPal's Money Back Guarantee or 
certified escrow services, where available, which insure transactions for a small fee. 

• Buyers are also protected by eBay's purchase protection program. The eBay stan- 
dard purchase protection program provides partial reimbursement for losses re- 
sulting from nondelivery or misrepresentation of most items up to $200 (minus 
$25 processing cost). 



134 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



F7 



Categories 
Digital SLR 

■Canon (1651) 

■ Fuiifilm £258) 
■ Nikon (10941 

■ Olympus (220) 
(547) 



Seiiich Option 
Show only: 



tracking number, and the seller must 
require the buyer to sign for the 
package if the item sold for more than 
$250, Bettencourt says. 

A Premier or Business account is 
verified when the account holder links 
it to a bank account and PayPal de- 
posits a small amount of 
money into that account 
in a test procedure. 

A confirmed ship-to 
address is an address that 
matches the address on 
the buyer's PayPal ac- 
count information and 
the buyer's off-PayPal fi- 
nancial account informa- 
tion. When the seller 
receives the payment con- 
firmation message from 
PayPal, it states whether 
the ship-to address is a 
confirmed address or not. 
If any requested informa- 
tion is not provided by 
the seller, PayPal will au- 
tomatically grant the re- 
fund to the buyer. 

Protection policies for 
both buyers and sellers apply only to 
tangible, physical goods — that is, to 
items that must be handled. It does not 
apply to services or intangible items, 
such as an emailed recipe or an ebook. 
The covered value, the maximum re- 
imbursement, is the price of the item. 

Close Ties To eBay 

PayPal is not accepted for all eBay 
transactions, but it is for most. Ac- 
cording to Bettencourt, as of January 
2005, approximately 90% of all eBay 
listings offered PayPal. 

PayPal's complaint procedures are 
closely integrated with eBay's. If a 
user pays for an item with PayPal, the 
customer has to file only one com- 
plaint, with PayPal. 

Before filing a complaint, PayPal ad- 
vises buyers or sellers to first contact 
the party at the center of the dispute to 
try to resolve it without resorting to the 
formal complaint process. 



Aside from the user-activated 
buyer and seller protection pro- 
grams, both PayPal and eBay act 
proactively, with personnel and 
technology resources, to preempt 
fraudulent transactions before they 
can be completed. 



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Buyers should look for PayPal's Buyer Protection Program icon when 
shopping. All of the items listed here offer this protection, as indicated by 
the icon in the PayPal column. 



"There is a lot that we do behind the 
scenes for fraud protection," Betten- 
court says. PayPal uses software to 
scour transactions for unusual activity. 
For example, she explains, "If we see 
something suspicious, such as two pay- 
ments for $750 in one day" when a 
buyer never made such a large pur- 
chase before, "we'll freeze the transac- 
tion until we can call the buyer and 
verify that the buyer is using the ac- 
count." PayPal and eBay have more 
than 1,000 employees focusing on trust 
and safety, which encompasses fraud 
protection. Some of those employees 
are former law enforcement officials, 
including local police officers and FBI 
and Scotland Yard agents. 

Trust& Safety Tips 
For Buyers & Sellers 

To steer clear of trouble, PayPal sug- 
gests that buyers and sellers follow a 
few commonsensical guidelines. 



To start, a buyer should not partici- 
pate in a transaction on eBay that he 
would not participate in offline in the 
"real world." A buyer also should not 
accept a transfer of payment to a 
PayPal account that is not the one 
shown in the item's listing on eBay. 
This discrepancy could 
signal a fraudulent vendor. 
And, PayPal warns, 
"Exercise caution when 
purchasing items with a 
significantly delayed de- 
livery date." If a delivery 
date is more than 20 days 
after you make a payment, 
be wary. Sellers using 
PayPal cannot set delivery 
dates that are more than 
20 days from the time you 
pay for the item. 

A seller should state 
very clearly in his listing 
the condition or descrip- 
tion of the item for sale, 
the method of payment 
that the seller will accept 
for it, and the seller's re- 
turn or refund policy, 
Bettencourt says. 

PayPal advises sellers to only accept 
payment from one PayPal account 
per buyer. PayPal also recommends 
limiting credit card payments. 

Bettencourt says neither a buyer nor 
a seller should start a transaction on 
eBay and then complete it off eBay be- 
cause doing so would strip him of all 
of the protections described above. 

Finally, Bettencourt says that 
buyers on eBay should not use a wire 
money transfer service instead of 
PayPal to pay for an item, noting that 
such services offer no protections or 
recourse if a transaction goes bad. 

The same cautionary statement is re- 
peated by one of the best-known wire 
transfer services, Western Union, at its 
Web site, on a page about security and 
online auctions (www.westernunion 
xom/info/faqSecurity.asp). Qjs] 

by Robert E. Calem 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 135 



Safety & Security 



Do You Know 
Who I Am? 

Prove Your Identity With ID Verify 



Bay has its hands full trying to 

e balance users' privacy with the 
need to supply enough informa- 
tion to other users to com- 
plete transactions, but you 
can be sure the company al- 
ways comes down on the side 
of privacy. That's great for 
buyers, but when sellers want 
to unload a high-ticket item, 
eBay's anonymity works 
against them. How do you 
know someone is really who 
he says he is, and how do you 
prove to a seller that you are a 
legitimate bidder? 

The answer is ID Verify, an 
inexpensive service that is 
very easy to set up and that 
does a great job of estab- 
lishing proof of identity. If 
you have a feedback rating of 
less than 10, you must be ID 
Verified before you can list 
items using the Buy It Now option, and 
ID Verification also is required any 
time you place a bid exceeding $15,000. 

Use ID Verify: Step-By-Step 

ID Verification costs $5 and com- 
pleting the process online takes about 
10 minutes. To get to the verification 
starting point, go to www.ebay.com, 
click the Services link at the top of the 
page, and click the ID Verify link in the 
General Services category. 

Read the information that appears to 
make sure you really want to proceed 
and then click Sign Up Now. If you 
agree to the terms that appear (paying 
$5, not providing false information, 



and promising not to change any of 
your contact information for 30 days), 
click I Agree. 




Now you need to sign in using your 
eBay User ID and Password, and click 
Sign Me In Securely. The next page is 
ID Verify: Verify Account Information, 
and you must fill in the text boxes 
marked with green asterisks before you 
can proceed. This includes your full 
name, address, phone number, and 
other information. Don't worry about 
including that sensitive information as 
long as you see a locked padlock icon 
in the lower- right corner of your Web 
browser. That icon indicates that the 
connection is secure, and that all of the 
data you enter on this page will be en- 
crypted. That way if anyone's tapping 
into your Internet connection, they will 
only see encrypted gibberish. 



As soon as you click the Continue 
button, you are "virtually" giving eBay 
and its service partners what is effec- 
tively written permission to access your 
credit reports. You are only giving 
them permission to do this in conjunc- 
tion with verifying your ID, not to pore 
over your detailed financial records. 

Click Continue to go to the 
Additional Verification page where 
you can triple-check (you double- 
checked already, right?) the informa- 
tion you entered. Click the browser's 
Back button if you need to make any 
changes. Otherwise click Continue to 
move to the Verification Ques- 
tions page. Here you must an- 
swer a number of detailed 
questions about yourself and 
your financial accounts that 
are taken from the credit 
report information you just 
gave them permission to use, 
including your credit card 
number, the street you lived 
on prior to your last move, 
and/or the exact monthly pay- 
ment you make on your car or 
home. Don't use any punctua- 
tion marks in your street 
name, and have this informa- 
tion ready to go before you get 
to this step because after a cer- 
tain amount of time passes 
you'll be locked out of the veri- 
fication process and must start 
over from scratch. 

Click continue after entering this 
information, and you are finished. An 
ID Verify icon will appear in your 
feedback profile, and the credit card 
on record at eBay will be charged the 
$5 fee. You only need to complete the 
process again if your name, address, 
or phone number changes, but until 
then other eBay users will have just 
one more reason to trust you, and 
you'll know what other users went 
through to get their own verifications. 
Happy bidding! H 

by Tracy Baker 



136 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



LI.miM.IJJII.ILlJ 



Seek Out 
The Specialist 

Use eBa/s Expert Opinions To Accurately 
Price Your Wares 



Whether you're in the 
auction space or 
the "Buy It Now" 
marketplace, eBay is full of 
collectible items that people 
prize, from autographed 
baseballs to diamonds. But 
both buyers and sellers 
may have a difficult time 
deciding what these items 
are worth. So, eBay pro- 
vides a way to get help: 
Call in an expert. 

At a page entitled 
Opinions, Authentica- 
tion & Grading (pages. 
ebay.com/help/community 
/auth-overview.html), sellers 
will find links to 18 au- 
thentication and appraisal 
service providers, in cate- 
gories from Beanie Babies 
to Sports Memorabilia. eBay 
has reviewed each company's creden- 
tials, and each is well- regarded in its 
area of expertise. eBay states that the 
companies have pledged to remain in- 
dependent and not to favor either the 
buyer or the seller in a transaction. 

The site warns that authentication 
is subjective; two authenticators may 
offer opposite or differing opinions 
about an item's authenticity. 

How It Works 

To get an item authenticated or 
graded, a seller must send it to the 
service provider. Once authenti- 
cated, the service will issue a certifi- 
cate of authenticity to the seller, 
who then must post a picture of said 




certificate on the eBay page listing 
the item. 

The services are not free, but eBay 
itself does not charge a fee. Rather, 
service providers determine the cost 
based on the item or items being eval- 
uated and certified. 

For example, a service provider 
listed in the Sports Memorabilia 
category, PSA/DNA (www.psadna 
.com), a subsidiary of Collector's 
Universe, will evaluate an auto- 
graphed baseball. But the fee will 
depend upon whose signature or sig- 
natures it contains, as well as on the 
number of signatures on the ball. 
The basic fee is determined by the 
most-costly signature to evaluate. 
That cost is directly proportional to 



the value of the autograph, as deter- 
mined by the authentication service. 

Thus, authentication of a single 
baseball whose most expensive alleged 
signer is Cal Ripken Jr., costs $30. If 
there are two to five signatures on the 
baseball, the fee rises to $75; six to 26, it 
rises to $100, and more than 27 signers, 
$150. But a baseball whose costliest 
signer is Babe Ruth costs $150 to au- 
thenticate with one autograph, and the 
price stays the same for any quantity. 

PSA/DNA promises to complete the 
authentication within approximately 
20 days from when the item is re- 
ceived by the company, but it covers 
itself by saying that turnaround time 
also is affected by its workload. 

For prospective buyers, the Quick 
Opinion Program process is simpler 
and faster, even without a visible cer- 
tificate of authenticity. All a buyer 
must do is send the eBay item num- 
ber to the appropriate opinion, authen- 
tication, or grading service. From 
PSA/DNA, a response will arrive with- 
in 24 hours. It will tell whether the item 
is "likely genuine" or "likely not gen- 
uine" or whether the service is "not 
able to render a judgment," he says. If 
PSA/DNA cannot render a judgement, 
it will refund your payment. 

In the auction space, a buyer 
should submit the item number be- 
fore he bids for the item. That's be- 
cause he'll already own the item if the 
bidding process ends with him the 
winner before the service responds, 
regardless of what the response is. 

eBay launched the program ap- 
proximately three years ago to pro- 
vide buyers with one more way to 
check the validity and veracity of a 
buyer's listing, to raise the buyer's 
confidence for bidding on or buying 
something at the Web site. 

Whipps says that authenticated items 
sell for more and have higher sell- 
through rates. So, a savvy seller who 
doesn't have a Certificate of Authen- 
ticity will advertise the Quick Opinion 
Program in the item's listing, [rs] 

by Robert E. Calem 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 137 



Advanced eBAY 



Rev Up Your 
eBay Reputation 

How To Endear Yourself To Fellow eBayers 




Four centuries ago, Shake- 
speare wrote that without 
"spotless reputation . . . men 
are but gilded loam or 
painted clay." If he were 
writing today, he might have replaced 
those last five words with one: broke. 

To an eBay seller hawking mer- 
chandise on the Internet, a spotless 
reputation is critical to financial suc- 
cess. The online marketplace is home 
to thousands of virtual retailers selling 
identical items at nearly identical 
prices, and customers prefer to deal 
with sellers who have long established 
records of delivering quality items. 
First-time and inexperienced sellers 
who hope to compete against eBay 
stalwarts should take immediate steps 
toward building a credible reputation. 



The best place to start is the About 
Me page. 

All About Me 

The About Me page is part of your 
eBay member profile. The page lets 
you share personal information about 
yourself with potential customers. To 
access the About Me page, sign into 
My eBay and click the Personal In- 
formation link listed in the My eBay 
Views box on the left side of the page. 
The resulting My eBay Account: 
Personal Information page outlines 
key account information, including 
your username, password, password 
hint, email address, and credit card 
numbers. Locate the About Me Page 
listing, which you'll find under the 



Personal Information heading, and 
click its corresponding Change link. 
The first time you access this link, you 
will be given the opportunity to create 
an About Me page. Click the Create 
Your Page button to begin. 

The resulting Choose Page Creation 
Option page presents two options for 
building an About Me page: You can 
use an automated design template pro- 
vided by eBay or build a customized 
page out of raw HTML (Hypertext 
Markup Language). The automated 
option provides an attractive, albeit un- 
original, template through which you 
can share personal information with 
potential customers. The code-it-your- 
self option, on the other hand, offers an 
almost endless number of creative pos- 
sibilities but demands a degree of tech- 
nical competence and design prowess 
that the average eBay seller may not 
have. Unless you have a particular 
reason for wanting to code the page 
yourself, we recommend that you take 
advantage of the automated option by 
selecting Use Our Easy Step-By-Step 
Process and clicking Continue. See the 
"HTML & <eBay Tags>" sidebar for 
more information about coding your 
page in HTML. 

The resulting Enter Page Content 
page is divided into five sections: the 
page title, the first and second para- 
graphs, a picture, your eBay activity, 
and links to related sites. It's impor- 
tant that you consider how the con- 
tent in these five areas will work 
together to describe your product of- 
ferings. Prospective customers don't 
care whether your About Me page 
contains flashing text, animated 
graphics, background music, Java ap- 
plets, or any other type of whiz-bang 
Web technology. They simply want to 
know why they can trust you to de- 
liver the items that you advertise. It's 
your duty to orient the content of 
your About Me page so that it an- 
swers the most common questions 
potential customers will have about 
buying merchandise from you. 

Page title. The page title should say 
something specific about you in your 



138 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



role as an eBay seller. Tell your 
prospective customers exactly who 
they're dealing with by using your 
full name or company name as the 
page title. 

The first and second paragraphs. 
The goal when composing your first 
and second paragraphs is to describe 
the nature of your business and the 
reasons why potential customers 
should buy from you. Focus on pro- 
viding information that tells a poten- 
tial customer what type of person 
you are, your motivations for being 
an eBay seller, and your credentials 
as a source of quality merchandise. 
You could explain how and why you 
became interested in the items you 
sell, what you have done to expand 
your expertise about these items, and 
how you select or obtain the items 
that you sell. Describe your online 
trading history if you have one. If 
your online sales are an extension 
of an offline enterprise, you may 
include details about your brick- 
and-mortar business. But per eBay 
regulations, you cannot promote any 
part of your business that involves 
off-eBay sales. 



eBay supplies several basic text 
formatting options for use in con- 
structing your paragraphs. You can 
choose one of four common fonts 
(Arial, Courier, Times, or Verdana) 
from the Font Name field; one of 
seven font sizes (8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24, 
and 36) from the Size field; and one 
of five colors (black, blue, red, green, 
and brown) from the Color field (the 
default selection is black 10-point 
Arial font). You also have the option 
of applying bold-face, italics, or un- 
derline effects to the text; aligning the 
text to the left margin, right mar- 
gin, or center; inserting numbered or 
standard bullets; and indenting para- 
graphs. eBay lets you code the entire 
paragraph in HTML if you prefer to 
exercise even more control over the 
appearance of your paragraphs. Just 
click the Enter Your Own HTML tab 
to access the HTML editor. 

For best results, show restraint 
when implementing the formatting 
options and text effects. It may seem 
like fun to incorporate multiple 
colors, fonts, and font sizes in your 
paragraphs, but doing so may make 
the text difficult to read and give an 



impression of amateurism. We also 
suggest limiting each paragraph to 
several hundred words. Keep your 
content brief and to the point. 

A picture. eBay lets you include a 
picture as part of your page. The pic- 
ture can be of anything: a pile of mer- 
chandise, the computer where you take 
orders, your favorite package carrier. 
We suggest, however, that you pick a 
picture of yourself instead. Doing so 
helps potential customers get to know 
you. It also reinforces the fact that they 
are dealing with a real person and not 
an online form. Identify yourself by 
typing your name and job title, if rele- 
vant, in the Label Your Picture field. 

You can type the location of the pic- 
ture in the Link To Your Picture field. 
Note that the picture must have an on- 
line address (for example, www.do 
main.com/picture.jpg), which means it 
must be located on a Web server. If you 
haven't done so already, upload the 
picture to your Web server at this 
time (see www.smartcomputing.com 
/postphoto for more information 
about posting a picture online). 

We recommend double-checking 
the address of the picture to verify that 



HTML & <eBayTags> 



We encourage most eBay members to take advantage of eBay's convenient fill-in-the-blank About Me page template. The 
step-by-step online form enables even inexperienced sellers to build professional-looking Web profiles. For some fastid- 
ious members, however, the automated option is not the best option. These eBay dealers should consider custom-crafting an 
About Me page out of raw HTML code instead. 

To start the process of coding an About Me page from scratch, you should select the Enter Your Own HTML Code option 
on the Choose Page Creation Option page. The resulting page contains a large text field. Delete any text contained in the field 
and begin coding the page from scratch. You can use any accepted HTML command while crafting your page. Moreover, eBay 
offers a number of unique commands designed specifically for use on eBay. These tags automate the process of posting your 
latest listings and feedback, among other things. Some of the most popular eBay-specific tags and flags are: 



<eBayFeedback> 




displays your feedback 


<eBayFeedback CAPTION^ 


"LABEL"> 


displays your feedback under the title of LABEL 


<eBayFeedback SIZE="X"> 




displays X number of recent feedback comments 


<eBayltemList> 




displays your current eBay listings 


<eBayltemList BIDS> 




displays a list of the items you are currently bidding on 


<eBayMemberSince> 




displays the date and time you opened your eBay account 


<eBayTime> 




displays the current eBay time 


<eBayUserlD> 




displays your user ID and feedback score; your user ID is displayed as a link to your account 


<eBayUserlD EMAIL> 




displays your user ID, email address, and feedback score 


<eBayUserlD NOFEEDBACK> 


displays your user ID without showing your feedback score 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 139 



Advanced eBAY 



eb 



Help 



| Buy | Sell | My eBay 

| overview | talk | news | events 



|Start n 






i\D<juiiA'd 



Tetl the ■world about you and your interests 




■ Talk about who you are 

...... ,, ........ . 

■ Describe your collecting or selling passions 

■ Build trust and confidence among potential trading partners 

■ ■>iv-'.::_ "... ...:.' ■• "... .. .' ., ;■ . ,. ■ .■ ... ■....: a ■ , .:■' ... .. .. 

■ Get your own personilized eBay page with the me icon 

Create your About Me page 

Begin by clicking the button below. 
Create Your Page 



Helpful Links 

|£ 

amber Pages 



First recognition, then reputation. You can introduce yourself to potential customers by crafting an 
About Me page that describes your qualifications as an eBay seller. 



you entered it correctly. Simply copy 
the address in the Link To Your Picture 
field (right-click it and select Copy 
from the resulting pop-up menu) and 
paste it in the browser's Address field 
(right-click the Address field, select 
Paste, and press ENTER when the ad- 
dress appears). The desired picture 
should appear in the browser window. 
If it doesn't, the address is incorrect. 
Click the Back button to return to the 
Enter Page Content page and fix the 
address in the Link To Your Picture 
field. Test it again before continuing. 

Your eBay activity. More than any- 
thing else, potential customers really 
want to know two things: what you're 
selling and what other people have to 
say about how well you do it. The 
eBay Activity area of the About Me 
page is your chance to give them an 
answer. Start by opening the Show 
Your Current Listings drop-down 
menu and specifying whether you 
want to share information about 10, 
25, 50, 100, or 200 of your current 
listings. You can provide a descriptive 
label for your listings in the adjacent 
Label Your Listings field. 

After configuring the About Me 
page to show your current listings, 
the next step is to specify how you 
want to share your eBay feedback 
with potential customers. The Show 
Feedback You've Received field gives 



you the chance to share the 10, 25, 50, 
or 100 most recent comments you've 
received. You also have the option of 
choosing to show no comments, but 
we strongly discourage you from se- 
lecting this option. If you do not 
share feedback on the About Me page, 
potential customers will assume your 
previous customers were dissatisfied. 

Links. Don't forget to include 
links to relevant Web sites on your 
About Me page. You should include 
links to your personal or business 
Web site if the site includes addi- 
tional information that bolsters your 
credibility as an eBay seller. You also 
should consider adding links to sites 
that complement your business. If 
you deal in baseball cards, for in- 
stance, you may want to include 
links to appraisers who specialize in 
sports memorabilia. 

The automated About Me page 
builder lets you list links to three 
sites, but you may include more if 
you choose to craft your page in 
HTML. Either way, you cannot in- 
clude links to sites that compete 
with eBay or promote off-eBay sales. 
Nor can you link to sites that pro- 
mote the sale of items prohibited on 
eBay, such as alcoholic beverages or 
drugs. After entering the links, check 
each address to ensure that you en- 
tered it correctly. 



Preview, Post & Update 

When you have completed all five 
sections of the Enter Page Content 
page, click the Continue button to ac- 
cess the Preview And Submit page. 
Review the three layout options pre- 
sented to you and choose one. Wait a 
few seconds for the page to update 
and then scroll to the bottom of the 
Preview And Submit page to preview 
your About Me page. Repeat, if de- 
sired, to preview the other layout op- 
tions. If you are unsatisfied with the 
previews, click the Back button to ac- 
cess the Enter Page Content page 
again and make changes. When you 
finally preview a layout option you 
like, click the Submit button. 

The resulting page will confirm that 
your About Me page has been created 
and present the Web address at which 
the page can be viewed. You can share 
this address, which typically assumes 
the form members.ebay.com/aboutme 
/<Your _eBay_user_name>, with 
anyone who may be a potential cus- 
tomer. Access the page as soon as it is 
created to see how it looks in your 
browser window. 

Because eBay automatically up- 
dates the About Me page with your 
latest listings and feedback comments 
(if you opted to display them), it 
should take little effort to maintain 
the page. All you have to do is access 
the My eBay Account: Personal Infor- 
mation page, locate the About Me 
Page listing under the Personal In- 
formation heading, and click the 
corresponding Change link. Click the 
Edit Your Page button on the re- 
sulting page and then employ the 
familiar step -by- step design template 
to edit your content. 

Not Just About Me 

Building a reputation as a depend- 
able eBay seller takes more than a 
well- crafted About Me page, however. 
As mentioned earlier, it's far more 
important that you receive favorable 
comments from your customers. An 
About Me page is just one of the 



140 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



eb 






many resources you should employ to 
establish yourself as a reputable seller 
and build the good customer relations 
that result in positive feedback. Other 
steps you should take include: 

Buy, buy, buy. Here's the dilemma: 
You need lots of feedback to establish 
a good reputation, but you can't es- 
tablish a good reputation until you've 
received lots of feedback. First-time 
eBay sellers can break this apparent 
catch- 22 by participating in eBay auc- 
tions as buyers. You don't have to 
spend a lot of money. 
Bid a few bucks on vinyl 
LPs, books, or Christmas 
decorations. Just make 
sure you win the bid on 
several items and that 
you handle your side of 
the deal responsibly by 
paying for the items 
promptly. And when a 
transaction is complete, 
ask the seller to give you 
feedback. You'll soon 
have an assortment of 
favorable comments and 
some real-world eBay 
auction experience to go 
along with your bargains. 

Be thorough in de- 
scribing your items for sale. Because 
potential buyers cannot physically ex- 
amine the items they're bidding on, it's 
imperative that you provide a thorough 
and accurate description for them. 
Such a description will include the full 
name of the item, including manufac- 
turer and model number (if available); 
its size and weight; its origin, including 
an explanation of how you obtained it; 
and an honest assessment of its condi- 
tion. Explain whether the item is new 
or used, whether it has ever been out of 
the box, and the condition of its orig- 
inal packaging (if included). Refer po- 
tential buyers to eBay-recommended 
authentication and grading services 
that can verify your claims (see the 
"Seek Out The Specialist" article on 
page 137 for more information). Be 
upfront and very specific about any 
damage to the item. 



Do not include irrelevant informa- 
tion that may be misleading in a key- 
word search. Keyword spamming, as 
it's called, is prohibited by eBay. 

Be thorough in explaining your re- 
turn policy and shipping details. You 
can assuage a wary buyer and improve 
your chances of selling an item by 
detailing your return policy. Specify 
whether you allow returns, the length 
of the return period, and whether the 
buyer is responsible for paying for re- 
turn shipping. While you're at it, tell 



| Buy | Sell | My eBay | Community | Help | 



|Start n 



Search | 






About Me : Choose Page Creation Option 



1 Choose Page Creation Option 2 



■ ■.' ■ ." I'.,! •;-:: : 

(? Use our easy Step-by- Step process 
C Enter your own HTML code 






eBay provides two options for building an About Me page: write it in raw 
HTML code or fill in the blanks of an automated template. We suggest the 
latter. Choose the Use Our Easy Step-By-Step Process option to begin. 



your potential customers how you 
package the merchandise, which car- 
rier will ship the merchandise, and 
the cost of shipping and handling (if 
the buyer is responsible for shipping 
charges). On larger transactions, we 
recommend using only those carriers 
that offer online tracking capabilities. 

Follow eBay rules and procedures. 
Anyone who wants to build a good 
reputation must demonstrate a re- 
spect for eBay's rules and regulations. 
That's just as true online as it is off. 
Familiarize yourself with the eBay 
Rules & Policies page at pages. ebay 
.com/securitycenter/rules_poli 
cies.html and read "Follow The Rules 
For Sales Success" on page 89 
to learn the basic laws governing all 
eBay members and their transactions. 

Likewise, you should insist on 
using eBay-recommended services, 



such as Escrow.com (see "The Escrow 
Advantage" article on page 11 for 
more information) and PayPal buyer 
protection, when necessary instead of 
third-party service providers. You 
also should take advantage of eBay's 
advanced seller services, such as ID 
Verify (see "Do You Know Who I 
Am?" on page 136 for more informa- 
tion) and the PowerSellers designa- 
tion (see "eBay's Elite" on page 142 
for more information), to reinforce 
your credibility as a seller. 

Insist all sales be handled 
through the eBay platform. 
One of the most important 
eBay rules is that you must 
handle all auction transac- 
tions through the eBay plat- 
form. If a potential buyer 
contacts you to arrange an 
off-eBay sale in order to 
avoid the transaction fee, 
you should notify eBay im- 
mediately. And if you at- 
tempt to initiate an off- eBay 
sale yourself, know that the 
potential buyer is likely to 
report your transgression to 
eBay. You won't have to 
worry about your reputa- 
tion anymore if that hap- 
pens because your account will be 
terminated. 

Ask & You Shall Receive 

Honest and professional dealings 
with your customers should result in 
a positive transactional experience for 
all parties involved. The only thing 
left to do is ask your happy customers 
to provide feedback for you. It doesn't 
matter how you ask — you can make 
your request by enclosing a reminder 
in the product packaging, for in- 
stance, or by sending a follow-up 
email — only that you do. And in re- 
turn, you should provide feedback on 
all of your buyers. One good turn de- 
serves another. It's just another part 
of building a good reputation, [rs] 

by Jeff Dodd 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 141 



Advanced eBAY 



eBay's Elite 

What It Takes To Become A PowerSeller 




It took a lot more than word-of- 
mouth to bring eBay from the ashes 
of the dot-com burnout to the head 
table of the online marketplace. eBay 
may be known as the best place for 
your grandma to sell off her "Children 
of the American Frontier" plate collec- 
tion, but it's the frequent and consis- 
tent sellers that account for a healthy 
chunk of eBay's revenues. At the time 
of this writing, 430,000 eBay users were 
making a full- or part-time living by 
listing items for auction. That's roughly 
0.32% of the 135.5 million registered 
users worldwide. eBay designed the 
PowerSeller program for that tiny mi- 
nority of super sellers. 

If you've browsed eBay's pages for 
more than five minutes, you've prob- 
ably seen the PowerSeller logo at- 
tached to some seller's user ID. For 



buyers, the PowerSeller logo means 
that the seller generally knows how to 
conduct fair and respectful business 
on eBay. For sellers, the PowerSeller 
program has several benefits that can 
help budding auction-entrepreneurs. 
Best of all, membership is free. 

What's In It For PowerSellers? 

So if the steady flow of listing fees is 
what's in it for eBay, what benefits do 
PowerSellers enjoy that other sellers do 
not? As mentioned above, the most vis- 
ible benefit for PowerSellers is free use 
of the PowerSeller logo next to their 
user IDs, as well as in item listings and 
in their About Me pages. This unas- 
suming little logo can make a powerful 
impression on would-be bidders. The 
PowerSeller logo means that eBay has 



recognized you as a solid performer 
with good feedback and consistent sales 
numbers. As a PowerSeller, eBay grants 
you access to exclusive merchandise 
bearing the PowerSeller logo, as well as 
logoed business templates to profes- 
sionalize your communications with 
customers. 

PowerSellers can also visit an exclu- 
sive discussion board on eBay's Com- 
munity page. There you can hobnob 
with PowerSellers, exchange tips 
and trading secrets, and post about 
problem bidders. In addition, eBay 
sends PowerSellers a monthly email 
with PowerSeller news items. 

eBay also sends PowerSellers a 
printed copy of the PowerUp! news- 
letter on a quarterly basis. PowerUp! is 
specifically geared toward PowerSellers 
and provides advanced notice of when 
eBay is hosting Free Listing Days, as 
well as Picture Gallery and eBay Picture 
Services discounts. 

Both PowerSellers and non-Power- 
Sellers have access to Free Listing 
Days, as well as discounts on the 
Picture Gallery and eBay Picture 
Services. But PowerSellers can maxi- 
mize profits by planning to submit 
new listings on Free Listing Days and 
days when Picture Gallery and eBay 
Picture Services discounts will be in 
effect. PowerUp! also includes infor- 
mation about eBay Live! (an an- 
nual three- day conference that hosts 
classes, seminars, and lectures that ed- 
ucate buyers and sellers about how 
to become better eBay users), eBay 
University (in-person or online in- 
struction about buying and selling), 
seller sweepstakes, category programs, 
and selling statistics such as top 
searches and hot lists. 

eBay also offers PowerSellers free 
banner ads up to $200 per quarter 
and limited co-op advertising reim- 
bursements. eBay's Value Center pro- 
vides PowerSellers with discounts and 
special offers via third-party outlets. 
However, you may have to adjust 
your notification preferences to let 
eBay send you emails about your cat- 
egories of interest. 



142 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



Many high-volume sellers operate 
small businesses with eBay as their 
primary storefront. For this reason, 
eBay offers members of the Power- 
Seller program the ability to purchase 
healthcare designed for small busi- 
ness owners from Marsh Advantage 
America, both for themselves and 
employees. PowerSellers also enjoy 
the benefit of exclusive invitations to 
the yearly eBay Live conference and 
eBay University. For more informa- 
tion about eBay University, refer to 
"eBay University" on page 193. 

PowerSellers also have access to 
prioritized customer support, as 
well as the ability to participate in 
eBay-conducted surveys. If that's not 
enough to tickle your fancy, how 
about a welcome letter and certificate 
of achievement from eBay's own Meg 
Whitman? You can frame and hang 
them next to your Dare To Soar moti- 
vational poster. 

How To Become A PowerSeller 

Like any exclusive community, 
membership is by invitation only. 
eBay monitors its users and chooses 
only the top sellers for the Power- 
Seller program. Positive feedback and 
consistent gross sales are vital to 
achieving your PowerSeller aspira- 
tions. The entry-level PowerSeller 
must maintain an average of at least 
$1,000 of sales each month for three 
consecutive months. eBay requires 
that in addition to a 98% positive 
feedback rating, you must have feed- 
back posts from at least 100 unique 
buyers. Also, users need to have an 
average of four monthly listings for 
three straight months. eBay only in- 
vites users that comply with the 
listing policies (pages.ebay.com 
/help/policies/listing-ov.html) and 
consistently contact bid winners 
within three business days of the 
close of the auction. Finally, Power- 
Sellers must uphold the eBay Com- 
munity Values, found at pages. ebay 
.com/help/confidence/community- 
values.html. 



Gross Sales Criteria & Benefits 



Members of the program are entitled to different benefits based on various 
tiers of PowerSeller status. PowerSellers need to sustain a gross sales min- 
imum of monthly revenues in order to maintain rank. Bronze PowerSellers are at 
the entry-level tier and get prioritized eSupport, while Titanium members have 
achieved the highest rank and are eligible for all of the benefits. 





Bronze 


Silver 


Gold 


Platimun 


Titanium 


Gross Sales Minimum 


$1,000 


$3,000 


$10,000 


$25,000 


$150,000 


Priority eSupport 


Yes 


Yes 


Yes 


Yes 


Yes 


Toll-Free Support 
(Business Hours) 


No 


Yes 


Yes 


Yes 


Yes 


Toil-Free Support (24/7) 


No 


No 


Yes 


Yes 


Yes 


Account Manage 


No 


No 


Yes 


Yes 


Yes 





If you think you might qualify as a 
PowerSeller but haven't received an 
email from eBay, visit pages.ebay.com 
/services/buyandsell/welcome.html 
and click the Check Here To See If 
You Qualify link. You'll be asked to 
sign in with your username and pass- 
word. If you don't qualify and you still 
think you should, send an email to 
powersellersinfo@ebay.com. 

PowerSeller Tiers 

You can achieve five tiers of the 
PowerSeller program based on your 
monthly sales. The first tier is the 
Bronze level, which requires at least 
$1,000 of gross monthly sales for 
three months. Aside from the benefits 
listed earlier, Bronze PowerSellers 
have access to priority email support 
from eBay. The second tier is the 
Silver level, which demands $3,000 
worth of gross monthly sales for three 
months. Silver PowerSellers have ac- 
cess to the Priority eSupport, as well 
as a toll-free support number during 
business hours. The third tier is re- 
served for Gold members who main- 
tain average monthly gross sales of 
$10,000 for three months. Gold 
PowerSellers are eligible for all of the 
benefits granted to previous tiers, 
as well as 24/7 toll-free phone sup- 
port. Gold, Platinum, and Titanium 
PowerSellers get the name, phone 
number, and email address of an 



assigned, dedicated account manager. 
The fourth tier is for Platinum sellers 
who manage $25,000 in monthly 
sales for three months. The fifth 
tier, Titanium level, is the highest 
in eBay's PowerSeller program. Tita- 
nium sellers need to maintain 
$150,000 of monthly sales for three 
months to be invited into the Power- 
Seller elite. Members of the fourth 
and fifth tier are eligible for more 
money in eBay's Co-op Advertising 
program. See the article "Cash In On 
Co-op Advertising" on page 165. 

Logo Shy 

Don't assume that buyers will be 
intoxicated by your PowerSeller 
logo. Most buyers know enough to 
check your feedback score, so take 
care to avoid as much negative feed- 
back as possible. Also, avoid getting 
in over your head. Some high- 
volume sellers list so many auctions 
simultaneously that correspondence 
with their customers is next to im- 
possible. The journey from eBay 
hobbyist to small business operator 
is no quick study. But if you've 
gotten a PowerSeller invite, chances 
are good that you already have what 
it takes to build a successful business 
with eBay. Qjs] 

by Andrew Leibman 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 143 



Advanced eBAY 



From The 

Auction Block 

To Your Own 

Storefront 

Set Up Shop With eBay Stores 







When your eBay buying and 
selling begins to transform 
from a hobby into a business, 
what do you do? Implementing an on- 
line store the old-fashioned way calls 
for programming skills, third-party 
help, or expensive investment in tools 
that will let you create, maintain, and 
manage a bustling Web site, and that's 
just the beginning. How will you effec- 
tively market your new site when the 




Internet is teeming with hundreds or 
thousands of competitors? Who can 
you call when your site goes on the fritz 
in the middle of the night and you are 
losing potential customers? 

eBay thinks it has the answer with 
its eBay Stores services. These virtual 
storefronts let you use everything you 
already know about eBay to create list- 
ings for your products and auction — or 
simply sell — your goods, but they offer 



much more than a standard eBay ac- 
count does. All of the extra features and 
enhancements come at a monthly price 
that escalates depending on how large 
your business is, but anyone who sells 
a lot of merchandize on eBay should 
consider signing up for one of these ac- 
counts. There are only a few require- 
ments. Subscribers must have already 
established an eBay Seller's Account, 
have a valid credit card on file, and have 
a Feedback score of at least 20. They 
also must be ID Verified (see "Do You 
Know Who I Am?" on page 136 for 
more details) or have a PayPal account. 

Store Inventory 

Although the types of accounts vary 
in their features, all of them share 
common ground. One of the benefits of 
an eBay Store account is that it gives 
subscribers access to the Store Inven- 
tory listing format. Standard eBay auc- 
tions only last for up to 10 days, but 
Store Inventory listings can last from 30 
days to 120 days. There's also a Good 
'Til Cancelled option which lists an 
entry for 30 days and then renews the 
listing every 30 days until the item sells. 

Store Inventory listings are cheap 
and convenient, but there are a few 
caveats. The main drawback is that 
store inventory listings don't show up 
when customers perform a standard 
eBay search. For example, if you sell 
golf clubs, and a user goes to www 
.ebay.com and does a search for "9- 
iron," he'll see all of the 9 -irons listed 
by standard eBay users but will not see 
any of your clubs. The only way they 
can access Store Inventory listings is to 
either perform a search at the eBay 
Store site (search.stores.ebay.com) or 
to click the See Additional Buy It Now 
Items From eBay Store Sellers link at 
the bottom of each search results page. 

Note that the link refers only to Buy 
It Now items, which is the second 
major limitation of the Store Inventory 
listing format. All items listed as Store 
Inventory must be sold at a fixed price 
using Buy It Now, so visitors have no 
chance to bid on items hoping for a 



144 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



good deal (or drive up the price to gen- 
erate more money for you). You can 
convert any Store Inventory listing into 
a standard eBay auction or into a stan- 
dard Buy It Now listing that appears in 
normal eBay searches, but doing so re- 
quires paying the standard listing fees 
for those types of listings. But mixing a 
few of these standard listings in with 
your Store Inventory listings can help 
drive business to your eBay Store. 

Lower Listing Fees 

Longer auctions typically translate 
to higher listing fees, but that changes 
when you have an eBay Store. Each 
store listing costs only 2 cents per 30 
days, even if you have multiple items 
for sale under the same listing. If you 
have 200 of the same item and list 
them for 60 days, the total bill for that 
listing is 4 cents. Listing just one item 
using the standard eBay auction format 
would cost a minimum of 25 cents, 
with prices escalating to nearly $5 as 
the starting or reserve price increases. 

eBay Store subscribers still pay Final 
Value Fees, which are a minimum of 
8% of each item's closing price. But 
Store Listings do have some additional 
benefits, if you want the listings to 
stand out among regular auctions. 
Gallery listings, which show the item's 
picture next to the description text in a 



search result, typically cost 35 cents 
each, but store items can have Gallery 
pictures added for only a penny per 
listing. Item Subtitles let you add an 
additional line of information to the 
description text that appears in a search 
result. eBay users must pay 50 cents per 
listing for this option, but Store sub- 
scribers can add an Item Subtitle for 2 
cents per 30-day duration of the listing. 
eBay Store subscribers also get a small 
break on Picture Packs, which combine 
the Gallery service, the Supersize ser- 
vice (which lets shoppers see larger pic- 
tures of your items), and the Picture 
Show service (which adds a navigation 
bar to let shoppers quickly flip through 
multiple pictures). Normally this all- 
in-one pack costs $1, but prices start at 
76 cents for Store Inventory listings. 

Some fees stay the same. Prices for 
highlighting an entry (giving it a back- 
ground color on the search results 
page) still start at $5 per 30-day listing, 
costing 2 additional dollars per addi- 
tional 30 days. The Bold feature, which 
displays the text of a listing in boldface 
type, costs $1 for 30 days and an addi- 
tional dollar per additional 30 days. 

Storefronts 

Lower listing fees are great, but their 
value is diminished if those listings are 
scattered amongst the millions of other 



auctions taking place at any given mo- 
ment. The Storefront that comes with 
every eBay Store account consolidates 
all of your listings into a single, search- 
able entity that shoppers can browse 
without you having to worry that 
they'll bump into listings from your 
competitors. It works much like a 
standard online store, only it operates 
under the eBay umbrella with an inter- 
face that is familiar to eBay shoppers. 

Subscribers can pick out color 
schemes and graphical themes to give 
their storefronts a unique look. Each 
type of account comes with a certain 
number of Web pages within the 
storefront that can be completely cus- 
tomized, using one of the variety of 
templates supplied by eBay or by 
custom-programming them using 
HTML (Hypertext Markup Lan- 
guage), which is the simple lingua 
franca of the Internet. Each store page 
can also contain promotion boxes 
that highlight certain products or 
provide information to your visitors, 
and these boxes are customizable. 
Once again, eBay provides tools that 
let you set up professional-looking 
promotion boxes with just a few 
clicks but also let HTML experts get 
as creative as they want to be. 

Storefronts let users create up to 
20 custom categories to help visitors 
browse and search for products. 
They also can contain graphics or 



New Fees For Store Owners 


CD 
O 


logos to help differentiate your store 
from the rest of the pack, but all of 


O unning an eBay Store isn't quite as inexpensive as it used to be, thanks to 
l\changes in Final Value Fees that took effect on Feb. 18, 2005: 

Closing Price Old Price New Price 

1 cent to $25 5.25% of the closing value 8% of the closing price 
$25.01 to 5.25% of the initial $25, 8% of the initial $25, plus 5% 
$1,000 plus 2.75% of the of the remaining closing value 
remaining closing balance ($25.01 to $1,000) 
value balance 
Over $1,000 5.25% of the initial $25, 8% of the initial $25, plus 5% 
plus 2.75% of the next of the next $25.01 to $1,000, 
$25.01 to $1,000, plus plus 3% of the remaining 
1 .50% of the remaining closing value balance 
closing value balance ($1,000.01 to closing value) 
($1,000.01 to closing value) 


them include one of two eBay head- 
ers at the very top of the page. The 
standard header is exactly what you 
see at the top of each page when you 
use the stores.ebay.com Web site, 
containing a relatively large eBay 
logo on the left and a number of nav- 
igational links (plus a Search text 
box) on the right. Users who sub- 
scribe to the more expensive eBay 
Store accounts can also opt for the 
Minimized eBay Header option, 
which shrinks the eBay logo and uses 
a smaller navigation bar so your 
Storefront logo appears much larger 
relative to the eBay branding. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 145 



Advanced eBAY 



Store Breakdown 


\/ou can learn the details of all the features an eBay Store brings to th 
1 but here's a quick rundown of what the different types of accounts 


e table in the article, 
offer: 

Basic Featured 


Anchored 


Additional fully customizable pages in your Store 


5 pages 


10 pages 


1 5 pages 


Free subscription to Selling Manager Pro (pages.ebay.com/smpro4free) 


No 


Yes 


Yes 


Advanced Store traffic reporting (includes visitor path analysis and 
bid and Buy-lt-Now tracking) 


No 


Yes 


Yes 


Advanced Store sales reports (includes eBay marketplace data to 
benchmark your Store) 


No 


Yes 


Yes 


Increase exposure on eBay 


No 


Yes 

on eBay Stores 

Pages 


Yes 

on eBay Stores 

Pages 


Promotional dollars to spend on the eBay Keyword Program 
(www.ebaykeywords.com/stores?ssPageName=SellerReports) 


No 


Yes 


Yes 


Send email newsletters to Buyers 


100/month 


1,000/month 


4,000/month 


24-hour dedicated, live Customer Support 


No 


No 


Yes 


Monthly subscription fee 


$9.95 


$49.95 


$499.95 





Marketing & Sales 

Starting an eBay Store account en- 
ters your business in the eBay Store 
Directory, a sort of virtual yellow pages 
that potential customers can search 
and browse. eBay also does the work of 
submitting your store to popular Web 
search engines, using keywords tar- 
geted to your store's inventory. 

A store subscription also includes 
email marketing campaign tools that 
let you send customized newsletters to 
customers who sign up for the infor- 
mation. The newsletters are a terrific 
way to let customers know about up- 
coming sales and promotions. You 
also get a detailed report listing every 
person who opened your email, 
clicked links within it, or bought items 
directly through it. Each type of ac- 
count comes with a certain number of 
free emails, but you can send more by 
paying one cent per additional email. 

Another great marketing tool avail- 
able only to eBay Store customers is 
Cross-Promotions, which let you place 
links to additional listings within each 
listing you create. For example, if you 



sell MP3 players and accessories, you 
can place links (including thumbnail 
photos) to several accessories at the 
bottom of each MP3 player listing, let- 
ting customers know that they can get 
everything they need from your store. 
Best of all, instead of manually having 
to add the links to each page, the 
Cross-Promotions service lets you es- 
tablish a set of rules so that the links are 
automatically added when appropriate. 
For example, if part of your MP 3 busi- 
ness is selling Apple iPods, and you 
have several accessories that only work 
with that particular brand, you can set 
up rules that add links to those acces- 
sories to your iPod listings, but that 
doesn't add them to your other digital 
music player listings. Cross-Promotion 
listings appear on the item's descrip- 
tion page and also appear on the Bid 
Confirm page, so you get maximum 
exposure to people who are interested 
in or are purchasing your items. 

Users with standard eBay Seller 
accounts must pay $4.99 per month 
to get detailed reports of their sales 
through eBay's Sales Reports Plus tool, 
but it is included in the price of an eBay 



Store. This database maintains infor- 
mation about practically every aspect 
of your sales, including the percentage 
of successful auctions, average sale 
prices, and even how successful sales 
are on particular days or at particular 
times so you can tailor your listings to 
have the best sales potential. There's 
also an option to export all of your 
sales data to PayPal or Quick-Books. 

Phone Support 

Have you ever tried reaching a real 
person at eBay for customer support? It 
can be difficult through email and 
downright impossible via the phone — 
unless you are an eBay Store sub- 
scriber. Phone support was formerly 
a perk exclusive to Silver, Gold, Plat- 
inum, and Titanium eBay Power- 
Sellers, but eBay announced that 
beginning April 1 all eBay Store sub- 
scribers will have access to this service. 

A Store For Every Business 

All of these discounts and special 
features come at a price. Three wildly 



146 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



varying prices, actually, depending on 
which of the three tiers you sign up 
for: Basic, Featured, or Anchor. 

Basic. The Basic level is designed 
for people who sell relatively small 
numbers of items, who don't need 
much in the way of promotion, and 
who just want to take a baby step up 
from the standard eBay listing format. 
It costs $15.95 per month but lacks 
many of the business-oriented fea- 
tures that define the next two tiers of 
service. Basic subscribers have access 
to five customizable eBay Store pages 
and can send up to 100 promotional 
emails per month. They also gain ac- 
cess to all of the basic benefits we just 
discussed, but that's about it. A basic 
store is a great place to wet your feet 
and see if opening an eBay store will 
help your business before upgrading 
to a more robust Featured account. 

Featured. The Featured level hikes 
the monthly subscription cost to 
$49.95 per month but places more 
tools at your disposal that can really 
help a business grow. The number of 
marketing emails you can send per 



month increases to 1,000. You get 10 
customizable pages to work with, and 
your store is more actively promoted 
on eBay's Web site (for example, your 
site may appear as a Featured Store on 
the eBay Stores home page). 

One of the main benefits customers 
at this level receive is a free subscrip- 
tion to eBay's Selling Manager Pro ser- 
vice, which normally costs $15.99 per 
month. Selling Manager Pro adds an 
extra tab to your My eBay page that 
tracks inventory and provides stats on 
what is selling and what isn't. It also 
generates detailed monthly sales re- 
ports that include eBay fees and other 
information. The service lets you auto- 
matically email winning bidders with 
payment instructions or send bulk 
emails to nonpaying bidders as re- 
minders, among other features. The 
service is online-only, meaning there is 
no software to install and also that you 
can access it from any computer that 
has an Internet connection. 

Featured-level subscribers also gain 
access to an enhanced version of the 
Sales Reports Plus tool that lets them 



see eBay marketplace information 
about their products. This invaluable 
tool lets you analyze how your prod- 
ucts are doing compared to the same 
or similar products sold throughout 
eBay over a particular period of time, 
something that would be tedious if 
not impossible to track manually. 

Finally, subscribers at this level get 
$30 per month in promotion funds to 
spend on eBay's Keywords service (see 
"Search Words Are Key" on page 167 
for more on Keywords). This service 
associates your store with certain key- 
words, and when visitors type those 
words during a search, a text ad for 
your store has a chance of appearing 
on the search results page. You only 
pay for the service if someone clicks 
your ad, and the more you spend, the 
more likely your ad will appear on the 
search page. So having a little free 
money to play around with can help 
give your store a boost. 

eBay touts the Featured level as its 
best value, and we'd have to agree. It 
offers much more than a Basic ac- 
count for a reasonable amount of 
money, and the majority of small- 



Traffic Reports 


and medium-business owners won't 
miss the features that are gained by 


^ Bay tracks and reports inventory for your store differently depending on the 
w service level you use. As you can see, there is a tremendous difference between 
a Basic and Featured account but not much difference between Featured ac- 
counts and the much more expensive Anchor accounts: 

Basic Featured Anchor 

Number of daily page views and unique visitors Yes Yes Yes 
coming to your Store 

Number of page views and visitors for each page Yes Yes Yes 
in your Store, including all of your listings 

Data on how visitors are getting to your Store Yes Yes Yes 
(for example, which search engines and key- 
words are referring visitors) 

Search terms visitors are using within your Store No Yes Yes 

Path analysis (for instance, the paths visitors No Yes Yes 
take through your Store) 

Bid/BIN tracking to help you optimize your No Yes Yes 
Store for bidders and buyers 

How often your visitors are returning No Yes Yes 

How visitors are seeing your pages including No No Yes 
browser type, window size, and language setting 


1 

o 


upgrading to an Anchor account. 

Anchor. You'd better be in the big 
leagues when you open an Anchor 
store, as the monthly price skyrock- 
ets to $499.95. What could possibly 
be worth 10 times the amount of a 
Featured store? Well, you get every- 
thing the Featured level offers, plus 
the ability to send 4,000 email news- 
letters per month, along with 15 cus- 
tomizable pages. 

One of the key benefits at the level is 
24-hour dedicated live customer sup- 
port, so you should be able to get an- 
swers to your questions much faster 
than other store owners even when the 
universal phone support kicks in. The 
main reason to upgrade to an Anchor 
account, however, is exposure. While 
Featured stores get ad placement on 
the eBay Stores site, Anchor stores get 
ad placement throughout both that 
site and the main www.ebay.com site 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 147 



Advanced eBAY 



(where the overwhelming majority 
of shoppers perform their searches). 
Also, if a search results page at www 
.ebay.com contains information about 
matches in eBay Stores, Anchor stores 
are displayed at the top of the list. 

Get Started 

So is an eBay Store right for you? 
Our "eBay Store Decision Helper" 
sidebar can assist you in making that 
call, but there are two key points to 
consider before taking the plunge. 

First, there's the question of time. 
eBay Stores must be actively promoted. 
It takes time to create all of the emails 
and marketing materials that are essen- 
tial for the growth of your online busi- 
ness. There is also a Store Referral 
Credit system that can cut your Final 
Value Fees by up to 50% if you pro- 
mote your store outside of eBay (at 
other Web sites or in print advertise- 
ments, for example), but it takes a lot 
of time and passion to cash in on this 
incentive. If you can barely allocate 
enough time to sell items on eBay right 
now, opening a store will probably be a 
disaster as you are no longer able to 
rely on eBay s standard searches to gain 
exposure for your listings. 

Secondly, ask yourself if your eBay 
Store would be an interesting and vi- 
able store in the real world. If you sell a 
hodgepodge of merchandise or don't 
keep any one particular item in stock, 
you're probably better off sticking with 
the standard eBay auction format. If 
you sell items that people buy once and 
then never need again, an eBay Store 
probably isn't right for you. If, how- 
ever, you specialize in a certain type of 
product, or sell items in a general cate- 
gory (such as golf equipment), opening 
a virtual storefront may help your 
bottom line. If that's the case, be sure 
to read "Setting Up Your Store" on 
page 149 for our step-by-step instruc- 
tions. The customers are waiting — all 
you need to do now is give them a 
place to spend their money. S 

by Tracy Baker 



eBay Store Decision Helper 



'hinking of setting up an eBay Store but can't decide what level of service suits 
your needs? Answering these simple questions can help you make up your mind: 



Yes No 

□ □ 

□ □ 

□ □ 

□ □ 



Do your products rely on the chaos of the auction format to sell well? 
Do you only sell a few products each month or sell many products 

sporadically? 
Do you rarely or never use the Buy It Now fixed-price listing service? 
Do you sell a wide variety of unrelated items? 



Yes 


No 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 


□ 



If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, 
stick with a standard eBay Seller account. 

Do you already use fee-based services such as Sales Report Plus to track your 
eBay transactions? 

Are your items consistently selling for a profit? 

Do you often have repeat customers? 

Are your combined listing, listing upgrade, and fee-based service fees already 
adding up to greater than $15.95 per month? 

Is managing your eBay account taking up a lot of your free time? 

Do you sell multiple units of the same item? 

Do you offer a variety of items that sell over time but not necessarily in the 
week to 10 days a typical auction lasts? 

Do you only want to sell products at fixed prices and not in auction format? 

Will your sales increase if shoppers can browse your entire inventory (for ex- 
ample, do all of the products you sell have a theme or tie into one another)? 

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, 
consider a Basic Store account. 

Yes No 

D D Do you list enough items that reduced listing and listing upgrade fees 

would save you at least $49.95 per month? 

D D Do you feel that access to detailed sales and inventory statistics would 

help you improve sales? 

□ □ Is lack of marketing and lack of exposure on eBay a major factor holding 

your business back? 

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, 
consider upgrading to a Featured Store. 

Yes No 

□ D Do you have an enormous inventory? 

□ D Do you sell products that have mass-market appeal as opposed to spe- 

cialty items? 

□ D Will guaranteed exposure at www.ebay.com and at the eBay Stores site re- 

sult in enough new customers to justify nearly $500 per month in eBay 
service fees? 

□ D Do you absolutely need to know every single detail about the people who 

visit your site? 

□ D Do you need access to 24/7 customer support? 

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, 
consider upgrading to an Anchor Store. 



148 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



Setting Up 
Your Store 

Get Your Empire Off To A Good Start 




By now, you probably don't 
need convincing about the 
value behind eBay auctions. If 
you haven't auctioned stuff through 
eBay yet, the odds are virtually in- 
escapable that you know someone 
who has. And who among us doesn't 
at least dabble with the idea of run- 
ning a business? Maybe you're a 
leather craftsman who wants an 
outlet to sell handmade belts and 
purses. Maybe you're a housewife 
with an addiction to making greeting 
cards and think you're ready to start 
selling your holiday greetings in lots 
of 10. Or maybe you're the manager 
for an auto parts wholesaler looking 



for a way to move that entire inven- 
tory filling your back room. 

The answer is eBay Stores. Most of 
us homebodies have little odds and 
ends we want to get rid of, and we 
might have two or three auctions up at 
any given time. An eBay store is for 
someone looking to move a larger 
number of items on a fairly constant 
basis. Common eBay wisdom holds 
that you should have at least 20 items 
or more posted at any given time in 
order to justify having a store. Stores 
work well for people who carry a cer- 
tain baseline level of inventory and/or 
regularly post items that are similar. 
For example, if you're that leather 



crafter selling belts, a store would pro- 
vide an efficient way for people to 
browse through different lengths of 
one belt style without having to search 
through a tide of standard auctions. 

Additionally, eBay stores work well 
for items that may be slow to sell. For 
example, an eBay store called Uncle 
Griffs Closet (stores.ebay.com/Uncle- 
Griffs- Closet) features virtually iden- 
tical listings for a one-week rental of 
the owner's scenic Italian villa. The 
only differences among the listings 
are the dates of the rental and the 
price for that week. In a conventional 
auction, the owner would have to pay 
reinsertion fees of several dollars 
every week for each listing until it 
sold — if it sold at all. In a store, the 
owner pays two cents per listing per 
month and can have the listing auto- 
matically renew perpetually as a Good 
c Til Cancelled item. 

Are you sold on eBay Stores yet? If 
so, let's get you up and running with 
your own shop. 

Build The Store 

Setting up an eBay store requires 
fairly little effort or resources. You 
need to be a registered eBay seller, of 
course. Then you need to meet at least 
one of three criteria: You need to be 
set up to accept PayPal payments (a 
process that generally takes about two 
days because of bank account verifica- 
tion details), have a feedback rating of 
20 or greater, or be ID verified. ID 
verification involves a third-party con- 
firmation of your contact information 
and carries a few member benefits, al- 
though the process does cost $5. If 
you're in a hurry to create a store, 
though, ID verification only takes a 
few minutes. 

Once you're qualified to open a 
store, it's time to start construction. 
From the eBay home page, look in the 
left column under Specialty Sites and 
click eBay Stores. On the Stores page, 
over near the top-right corner, click 
Open a Store. You'll need to enter 
your eBay user ID and password and 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 149 



Advanced eBAY 



eb 



then click the Sign In Securely button. 
On the next page, click the top link to 
read through the User Agreement if 
you like, then click the I Accept The 
eBay User Agreement button. eBay 
will alert you at this point if you don't 
meet the requirements for having a 
store. If there's no problem, you'll 
drop right into the Select Theme page. 
Honestly, the nine Most Popular 
cookie cutter templates eBay offers are 
attractive enough for starting out. 
More options are available in the 
Themes box on the left. If you want 
your store to have a more unique 
look, and you're willing to put in the 
hours and/or expense on de- 
sign and artwork, then check 
out the Easily Customizable 
templates. For now, we'll se- 
lect the Honeycomb Blue 
template from the Most 
Popular page. 

The next page, Provide 
Basic Information, has you 
input a store name and de- 
scription. Be careful on the 
name since this affects not 
only how memorable your 
company is in viewers' 
minds but also your eBay 
store's Web address. Thus 
our company name, Tossed 
Tot Toys, has the URL 
stores.ebay.com/tossed-tot- 
toys. All spaces in company 
names are converted to hy- 
phens in their corresponding 
Web addresses. Note that 
use of the words eBay, 
PayPal, or Half.com in your 
store name are not allowed. 

The store description is 
perhaps even more impor- 
tant. Your description is 
what gets scanned by search 
engines, Google.com chief 
among them, so you want to 
make sure that your descrip- 
tion is brimming with perti- 
nent keywords that will drive 
searchers to your site. (Mind 
you, this is different from 
eBay's internal keywords 



program.) You only get 300 characters 
to work with, so consider making up a 
list of words embodying your prod- 
ucts or services in advance and 
thinking out how to fit in all of the 
best candidates. If free upgrades to 
two-day air shipping are a standard 
offering for your business, you might 
want to mention that here. 

Next up on the Basic Info page is 
the Store Logo area. eBay supplies over 
two dozen predesigned logos based on 
themes such as cars, hobbies and 
crafts, and toys. Alternatively, you can 
upload a logo graphic from your hard 
drive, supply an online location for a 



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a product that vary only slightly. Uncle Griff's Closet has one "product" 
for each week of an Italian vacation rental. 



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logo file, or have no logo at all. Note 
that logos must be in JPEG (Joint 
Photographic Experts Group), GIF 
(Graphics Interchange Format), BMP 
(bit-mapped), or PNG (Portable 
Network Graphics) format with a 
maximum pixel size of 310 x 90. If the 
source file does not fit these dimen- 
sions, eBay will automatically stretch 
or scrunch it to fit, and the results will 
usually look awkward, so use a basic 
image editor to make sure you have 
the dimensions right in advance. 

Click the Continue button to start in 
at the Review 8c Subscribe page. This is 
where you get to sign up for one of 
eBay's three subscription 
levels. Most entry-level busi- 
nesses are likely to pick the 
Basic Store for $15.95 per 
month, so we'll select this op- 
tion. Chances are that people 
needing an Anchor Store 
won't be reading this article. 
The advanced benefits of a 
Featured Store, chief of which 
are free use of Selling Man- 
ager Pro and sales and traffic 
reporting, are covered in 
other articles in this issue. 

Pick an option from the 
drop-down menu for how 
you heard about eBay Stores 
and then click Start My 
Subscription Now. (Don't 
worry — you've still got 30 
days to try out your store 
and cancel without being 
charged.) eBay now gives 
you a Congratulations screen 
along with a link to your 
new store's Web site. Follow 
this link and add the site to 
your browser's Favorites list 
for future convenience. 

Great! Now you have four 
walls and a ceiling for your 
virtual shop. Let's give the 
place some personality. 

Make The Store Yours 



Your first step in creating an eBay store is to click the Open A Store 
button near the top-right of the Stores page. 



On the Congratulations 
screen, you will need to click 



150 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 






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the Continue Customizing button to 
access Store Builder. Your other op- 
tion is to click the Manage My Store 
button from stores.ebay.com after 
you've logged in, or you can click the 
Seller, Manage Store link near the 
lower-right corner of your store's 
main page. 

The different facets of your store are 
broken down into sections, each of 
which you can tweak to suit your taste 
and business needs. First up is Basic 
Information. Click the Edit link and 
you'll jump back to the store name, de- 
scription, and logo selection page you 
went through during the initial setup. 

The Store Theme section now gives 
much more granular control over 
your store's appearance. The Change 
to another theme link lets you mull 
through the basic templates you saw 
before. The real action is through the 
Edit theme and header content link. 
Here you can change your site's color 
scheme, font faces, and font sizes. 
You'll note that there is a multicol- 
ored square next to each of these op- 
tions. Clicking it brings up a palette of 
216 colors and their corresponding 
hex values. Alternatively, for the 
color-inclined, you can manually 
enter specific hex values. 

Below this, you'll find the Header 
content section. Header text gets dis- 
played immediately under your store's 
logo bar. This content editor varies 
from the content editor in standard 
auction sale pages in two ways. First, 
you'll note the link for Picture 



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If you don't meet eBay's 
other requirements for 
opening a store, pay the 
few bucks to run ID 
Verify. This lets eBay 
run a quick background 
check on you and only 
takes a few minutes. 
When approved, you 
can proceed with 
creating your store. 



Manager. This is a 
handy tool for up- 
loading and doing basic edits on your 
site's images. Once you've uploaded 
your files to your eBay My Pictures 
folder (not the My Pictures folder in 
Windows), you can use the Picture 
Manager to browse through your 
image thumbnails, check which one(s) 
you want to use in your site, select one 
of three picture sizes, and then click 
the Add to Description button to drop 
your image(s) straight into the con- 
tent editor at the point where your 
cursor sits. 

Second, be sure to notice the Store- 
specific tags link right under the con- 
tent editor window. Clicking this will 
bounce you to a Help page detailing 
the different, eBay-proprietary HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) tags 
you can add to your site's code to in- 
sert special eBay selling elements, such 
as your feedback rating link, a store 
item entry, or a store search field. Take 
the time to master these, because they 
can really help punctuate key sale 
items on your store's home page. 

The point we made earlier about 
crafting large, professional header 
space applies here. eBay doesn't allow 
for particularly advanced HTML, but if 
you take the time to master building 
HTML tables and other Web page ba- 
sics and develop your site's code in any 
HTML editor for copying into the store 
content editor, your sales will probably 
reward your efforts. 

The last link in the Store Theme sec- 
tion is Change left navigation bar. This 
allows you to select or deselect your 



store's search box, categories, buyer 
display options, and custom store 
pages. Within the categories, you can 
either use custom categories (which is 
the default) or generic eBay categories. 
eBay lets you have up to 19 customiz- 
able category listings (the 20th is Other 
Items), and these are searchable, so 
you'd be well-advised to use them. 

Before you continue, click the 
Manage Your Promotion Boxes link. A 
promotion box is a highlighted sale 
item that can be placed either just 
under your header bar or the left navi- 
gation bar. Click the Create New 
Promotion Box button, give the pro- 
motion box a name, use the Location 
pull-down menu to pick the box's page 



Store Item Pricing 



As of Feb. 18, 2005, eBay imple- 
mented a sweeping round of 
price hikes across its services. For 
Store subscriptions, the monthly 
price for Featured and Anchor Stores 
remained unchanged at $49.95 and 
$499.95, respectively. However, the 
Basic Store cost jumped from $9.95 
to $15.95 per month. 

When sold, store items are as- 
sessed a Final Value Fee based on 
their closing price. This fee is a bit 
confusing, so it's worth detailing here. 

All items sold for $25 or less are 
charged 8% (8% of $25 is $2). 

Items sold for $25.01 to $1,000 are 
charged this first fee ($2) plus 5% of 
the remaining balance. So an item 
that sold for $425 would be charged 
$2 for the first $25 of value plus $20 
(5% of the remaining $400), yielding 
a total fee of $22. 

Items sold for more than $1,000 
add a 3% charge for any value above 
$1,000. So a sale of $1,600 would en- 
tail a three-tiered fee: 

• $2 for the 8% of the first $25 

• $48.75 for the 5% of the next 
$25.01 to $1,000 

• $18 for the 3% of the final $600 
above $1,000 

Thus the Final Value Fee would be 
$68.75 on a $1,600 sale. I 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 151 



Advanced eBAY 



position, and select a box 
type. There are eight box 
types, and you should take 
the time to learn the bene- 
fits of each. The most ro- 
bust is Custom Text/ 
HTML, which you can es- 
sentially code from scratch, 
but we also like the Item 
Showcase option because it 
allows for larger picture 
displays of multiple items. 
This is a good way to push 
a mix of hot sellers and 
slow movers right under 
visitors' noses. 

Next up is selecting 
which items to promote, 
but because we haven't 

added any inventory yet 

we'll skip this. Just note 
that you can either add items manu- 
ally or let eBay select them for you 
based on criteria you specify, such as 
a price range or keywords. 

The Item List Display section lets 
you select a default inventory layout 
in list or gallery view. If you're fairly 
assiduous about taking product pic- 
tures and posting them with your 
items, then gallery view may be the 
flashiest way to go, particularly if 
you're dealing with inventory that will 
benefit from people seeing the goods. 
List view is the default since most 
people either don't have Gallery pic- 
tures posted with their sale items 
and/or want more items shown on 
each page. (Unlike regular eBay auc- 
tions, Gallery images only cost one 
cent in Store Inventory listings.) 

You can also select your item sort 
order. Ending First is the default, but 
we're partial to Newly Listed. The 
other two options are Highest Priced 
and Lowest Priced. 

You can skip the Store Home Page 
and eBay Header Style section for now. 
The only home page option at this 
point is "All Your Listings," and you 
can't switch to a minimal eBay header 
unless you upgrade your subscription. 

The next section is called Custom 
Pages, and we could fill this entire 



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keywords here before proceeding. 



article with all of the options for cre- 
ating and managing these catch-alls. 
Suffice it to say that a custom page can 
be anything — a promotions sheet, a 
home page, a terms and conditions list, 
a biography about you and your busi- 
ness, or anything else. eBay offers sev- 
eral layout templates, allows for detail 
customizing, and walks you through 
filling the page, just as we've seen previ- 
ously with other page and element 
types. Using the activate/deactivate 



feature for custom pages is 
an easy way to rotate con- 
tent in and out of view and 
keep a site looking fresh. 

The Custom Categories 
area is fairly self-explana- 
tory. Just click the Edit cat- 
egory names link to replace 
the defaults with your own 
categories. For example, we 
made categories called 
Thomas The Train, DVDs 
And Videos, and Clothes 
for our test site, among 
others. The Change cate- 
gory display order link will 
let you rearrange your cat- 
egories. Keep in mind that 
empty categories won't be 

displayed in your store. 

The Promotion Boxes 
link is a repeat of the Manage Pro- 
motion Boxes link we encountered 
above. The only difference here is the 
Guided Setup link, which slaps a 
friendlier, quicker process on promo- 
tion box creation. These won't be as 
customized initially, but you can al- 
ways edit boxes later. 

The final section, Helpful Links, 
merely offers links for Manage Your 
Store and three cross-promotion 
areas. However, cross-promoting is so 



Is It Really eBay? 



If you design your 
site pages properly, 
viewers may overlook 
the fact that they're 
on an eBay Store site 
until after their first 
impression of your 
wares is formed. Savvy 
sellers customize the 
HTML code in their 
pages to make their 
header area so large 
that the requisite 
eBay Store Categories 
bar and listings don't 
even appear at first 
glance in a 1,024x768 



browser window. You 
have to scroll down 
to see any of that. The 
only preformatted el- 
ement is the relatively 
innocuous but re- 
quired eBay Stores 
logo, tabs, and search 
field across the top of 
every page. (Big tip: 
You can make this 
eBay logo smaller by 
upgrading to a Fea- 
tured account and se- 
lecting the Minimal 
eBay header option in 
the Select Store Home 



Page and eBay Header 
Style section of the 
Store Builder tool.) 
Given that some 
people think of eBay 
stores (or Amazon's 
or Yahool's and so 
on) as being some- 
how inferior to an 
independent site, 
this is a subtle way to 
convey that "big site" 
first impression . . . 
provided you make 
the header look clean 
and professional. I 



152 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



essential to an effective eBay store that 
we need to discuss it in more detail. 

Craft Cross-Promotions 

When you use eBay's regular search 
engine, the results do not feature hits 
obtained via eBay Stores. However, 
given that this is how many users go 
about finding their desired goods, 
trusting only in your store site might 
leave you stranded without viewers. 
The alternative is to go into the 
Advanced Search area and specifically 
use the Items in Stores link, which, of 
course, would then eliminate any hits 
in regular auctions. There is one ex- 
ception: If a standard search returns 
fewer than 10 hits, eBay will automat- 
ically bring in hits from the Stores to 
fill out a returned list. 

The solution is cross-promoting be- 
tween your store and standard auctions. 







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eBay supplies many templates to help streamline your store 
creation. If your favorite isn't quite good enough, just dip into 
the editing options to fine-tune it. 



You always want to have at least one 
standard auction running for each 
major category within your inventory. 
This should be for items likely to draw a 
lot of page views. At the bottom of these 
auctions, you use the cross-promotion 
tool to push traffic to products listed in 
your store. Our inside experts at eBay 
state that this approach is so important 
that it can mean the difference between 
an eBay-based business succeeding or 
failing. They also suggest occasionally 
making some of these regular auctions 
into Featured listings. These carry a 
steep price premium, but eBay has the 
stats to show that Featured auctions 
draw more traffic and higher sale prices, 
thus making a more effective billboard 
for your store. 

Let's do an example. We created a 
test sale as a standard auction, not a 
store item, filled out all of the requisite 
information, and posted it. The main 
difference between this 
listing and those done 
prior to creating the store 
is that now each listing re- 
quires you to select which 
store category this item is 
associated with, even 
though this is not a store 
sale. When we returned to 
our auction via My eBay 
and scrolled to the bot- 
tom, we found that eBay 
had automatically created 
a cross-promotion box at 
the bottom of the descrip- 
tion area with thumbnail 
images of and links to the 
two test items we had in 
our store. Additionally, 
eBay tacks on a link di- 
rectly to the store plus a 
link for the user to add the 
store to his eBay My 
Favorites list. 

Right below this box is 
a link to Change your 
cross-promoted items. By 
default, eBay automati- 
cally picks up to four of 
your store options to dis- 
play, preferably in the 



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same category you selected for the auc- 
tion item while posting it. But here you 
can change the default cross-promo- 
tion category and manual cross-pro- 
motion selection, which will let you 
handpick which store items are shown 
as promotions. You can control these 
options both for when people view 
your item as well as bid on or buy it. 

At the bottom of this Change Your 
Cross-Promoted Items page, you'll also 
find a link called Change your cross- 
promotion preferences. From here, you 
can elect to turn off cross-promotions 
altogether or limit what types of items 
get displayed. For instance, you might 
only want to show items with Gallery 
images when someone views your item 
yet show any item when someone bids 
on your item. This might make sense 
because the visitor has indicated a 
higher level of interest in your products 
by bidding on one and may be more 
tolerant of not having a Gallery image. 

You can also access this options 
screen via My eBay, Manage Your 
Store, and the Preferences link under 
Item cross-promotions. Above this link 
is another link for Default category set- 
tings. Here you can specify which cate- 
gory should be promoted first when a 
viewer views or bids on/buys an item 
within any of your categories. This 
could be useful for helping boost sales 
in a lagging category by promoting it 
when people view items in your higher 
interest categories. Obviously, the more 
related the categories are, the better the 
odds that the viewer will be interested 
in the cross-promotion. 

Store Strategies 

Just as with conventional busi- 
nesses, marketing your eBay store is 
critical, and that starts with your store 
items being searchable by outside 
search engines. While you're still at 
the Manage Your Store page, click the 
Customize Keywords for Search 
Engines link. This section lets you edit 
the primary and secondary keywords 
for each of your categories. eBay em- 
beds these keywords into your pages' 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 153 



Advanced eBAY 



metadata to help draw Web traffic to 
your store. However, eBay takes a dim 
view of keyword spamming, or using 
keywords that are irrelevant to your 
sale items, and may suspend your 
store over repeated offenses. 

Probably the next most important 
thing is getting a decent Web address. 
On the Manage Your Store page, there 
is a Register Your Domain Name link, 
which further links you to Hostway or 
Network Solutions for domain name 
registration and forwarding. This is not 
exclusive to Hostway or Network 
Solutions because any domain registra- 
tion company will offer this and there's 
no harm in saving money and regis- 
tering somewhere else. The final objec- 
tive is to come up with a catchy, easy to 
remember domain name and then 
have your provider redirect traffic 
straight to your eBay store's site. 

With that done, you then are left 
with the perennial puzzle over how to 
market your Web address in the larger 
world. One seller we spoke with told us 
that he gets all the business he can 
handle for his Datsun parts business 



Change That 
Window Dressing 



Changing store styles and color 
schemes is a snap. Use this to 
your advantage. When you go to the 
mall in October, all the decorations 
are orange and black. In December, 
everything is green, gold, and red. If 
festive decor can get people in the 
mood to buy at Macy's, it can also 
work for you. 

Of course, don't just tie your store 
to the holidays. If you run a clearance 
sale twice a year, consider swapping 
in some graphics with explosions or 
similarly themed images when the 
time is right. Also keep in mind that 
a changing site tells people that 
you're active and working to make 
sales. Rotating promotions also give 
people a reason to keep revisiting 
your store. I 



Add/Upload Pictures 



ill 



just by placing blurbs touting his eBay 
store in classified ads posted on auto- 
motive enthusiast sites around the 
country, nearly all of 
which are free. The op- 
tions for marketing 
your store both online 
and off are essentially 
unlimited, but you will 
notice that successful 
eBay sellers not only 
use cross-promotions 
to push traffic to their 
stores, but they also 
build store advertising 
directly into the de- 
scription area of their 
auctions. Again, this is 
where HTML fluency 
can pay off. 

As we mentioned be- 
fore, it's a good idea to 
rotate the look of your 



what's hot and what's not within your 
offerings so you can optimize future 
item listings. 



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store's main page, but 
it's also worthwhile to 
rotate the prominently 
displayed items. Your 
promotional box and 
custom page settings may take care of 
this for you, but if not, remember to 
work at it. This tells people your stock 
is churning, which must mean you 
have a lot of buyers. In the same vein, 
consider dedicating part of your main 
page or a custom page to detailing out 
of stock and on order items. You never 
know when this might spur someone 
to add you to his Favorites list so he 
can keep checking back. 

Last but not least, make sure to use 
the Traffic Reporting capabilities 
found off the Manage Your Store 
page. These reports are only available 
to store owners and will show you the 
amount of viewer traffic to all of your 
auctions and store items. You can also 
see traffic to your store's home, 
member profile, and Other Items 
pages as well as reports on the top 
searched keywords within your store 
and keywords used by eBay and ex- 
ternal search engines. Higher sub- 
scriptions offer even more reports, 
but these will serve to let you see 



As with regular auctions, eBay provides an image uploader tool 
for your store's product shots, complete with a nice handful of 
basic editing tools. It's a good way to get started. 



Open For Business! 

eBay Stores may be the only place 
in the world where you can erect a 
storefront viewable by millions in 
only an hour for less than $20 per 
month. Like any other business ven- 
ture, you get out of it what you put in. 
You still need to answer viewer ques- 
tions, log in the time to post items, 
and so on. This is one of the few op- 
portunities you'll have to compete 
against and beat multinational corpo- 
rations such as Sears and Dell on a 
level playing field and win. Everyone 
pays the same fees and uses the same 
posting tools regardless of size or 
number of inventory items. 

The only thing you really need now 
is the gumption to get your eBay store 
up and running . . . and the time to 
handle all those incoming orders. Qjs] 

by William Van Winkle 



154 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



Taking Care 
Of Business 

Track eBay Activity With Sales Reports 




Bay is more than just a fun alter- 

e native to flea markets. For many 
entrepreneurs and small busi- 
nesses, it's also a way to make a living. 
And why not? The Web-based auc- 
tion service provides almost every- 
thing an enterprising individual or 
company needs to be successful. It de- 
livers a ready-made trade infrastruc- 
ture, low overhead costs, a global 
customer base, and the opportunity 
to make money around the clock 
without hiring an extra clerk to stand 
behind the cash register. 

That's not all, though. In order to 
better serve its members and en- 
courage online trading, eBay has put 
together a variety of special services 
that are designed to help the most ac- 
tive sellers manage their auction- 
based businesses more effectively. 
Sellers may choose to consolidate 
their goods in one convenient loca- 
tion under the eBay Stores program, 



for instance, or they can participate in 
the Co-op Advertising Program as a 
way to decrease marketing costs. Or 
they might decide to invest in a sub- 
scription to the eBay Sales Reports. 

Overview Of An Overview 

eBay introduced its Sales Reports, a 
new line of tracking and reporting ser- 
vices designed especially for the com- 
pany's biggest sellers, on Oct. 21, 2004. 
The reports provide a broad perspec- 
tive of your business activity during a 
particular period of time. More specifi- 
cally, they enable you to monitor and 
analyze your auctions' past perfor- 
mance for the purpose of predicting 
future sales. Or, to put it another way, 
the Sales Reports make it possible to 
see what's working and what isn't. 

Sellers can choose from one of two 
Sales Reports packages: the standard 
Sales Reports or Sales Reports Plus. 



The standard Sales Reports package is 
free to any eBay member in good 
standing who has listed at least one 
item on eBay during the preceding 
four months and who has a feedback 
rating of 10 or higher. It provides a 
broad overview of your eBay sales ac- 
tivity and is issued once per calen- 
dar month. The Sales Reports Plus 
package, on the other hand, is free to 
eBay Stores subscribers and is also 
available at a rate of $4.99 per month 
(after a 30-day free trial period) to any 
other eBay member in good standing. 
The Plus reports, which eBay issues 
both monthly and weekly, dig deep to 
provide detailed information and in- 
depth analysis of your sales activity. 

To take advantage of either Sales 
Reports package, you must complete a 
subscription application. This is true 
even if you qualify for a free Sales 
Reports subscription. You can access a 
subscription application by visiting the 
Sales Reports (pages.ebay.com/sales 
reports/salesreports.html) or Sales 
Reports Plus (pages.ebay.com/sales 
reports/salesreportsplus.html) home 
page and clicking the Sign Up Now 
button in the middle of the page. 
Alternatively, eBay Stores subscribers 
can activate their free Sales Reports 
subscription by logging into My eBay, 
clicking the Manage Subscriptions link 
located inside the My eBay Views box, 
and selecting the Sales Reports Plus 
subscription option on the resulting 
page. Complete the application by 
providing the requested information 
and indicating whether you want to re- 
ceive an email notification each time 
one of your reports is issued. (We en- 
courage you to take advantage of the 
email notifications.) 

After submitting the application, 
you may have to wait several days while 
eBay gathers its data and prepares your 
first report. To access your report, ei- 
ther click the corresponding shortcut 
link contained in the notification email 
that you received from eBay or log into 
My eBay and click the Manage Sub- 
scriptions link, which is located inside 
the My eBay Views box. Your Sales 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 155 



Advanced eBAY 



Reports or Sales Reports Plus page will 
then appear in the browser window. 

A Closer Look 

The value of any sales report de- 
pends both on the quality of the infor- 
mation provided and your ability to 
understand that information. The eBay 
Sales Reports deliver on both accounts 
by providing only relevant sales data in 
an intelligible format. Specifically, the 
standard Sales Reports package consists 
of a sales summary and a fees sum- 
mary, while the Sales Reports Plus 
package includes beefed-up variations 
of the sales and fees summaries, as well 
as an additional series of sales metrics 
that describe your eBay activity in more 
precise detail. Both Sales Reports pack- 
ages also feature a variety of report 
management functions, such as print- 
ing and archiving, that can help you 
keep track of your reports. 

Sales summary. The sales summary 
provides a macroview of your eBay 
activity during a specified period. 
Subscribers of the standard Sales 
Reports package should read the sales 
summary to obtain statistics about 
the number of ended listings, the per- 
centage of successful listings, the av- 
erage price of each item sold, and the 
amount of total sales. 

The Sales Reports Plus package en- 
hances the sales summary by adding 
information about the number of 
unique items sold and the number of 
total, unique, and repeat buyers. 

Fees summary. As you are undoubt- 
edly aware, eBay assesses an insertion 
fee on every listing, as well as a final 
value fee on every successful sale. 
These fees amount to a small per- 
centage of your total sales. Exactly how 
much, however, can be difficult to cal- 
culate if you're dealing with hundreds 
or thousands of sales per month. 
That's where the fees summary comes 
in. It will calculate and categorize the 
amount of total fees that you paid 
during the specified period. 

The fees summary that is part of the 
standard Sales Reports package 



I »» h 



includes the total amount that you 
paid in fees to eBay and PayPal during 
the specified period. The Sales Reports 
Plus package, on the other hand, 
breaks down the fees so that you can 
see exactly how much you paid in in- 
sertion fees, feature fees, final value 
fees, subscription fees, and PayPal fees. 
It also identifies the amount of store 
referral credits, unpaid item credits re- 
quested, and final value fee credits that 
you have coming to you. Finally, the 
fees summary includes information 
about the number of unpaid items re- 
minders you sent and the percentage 
of unpaid items to total items sold. 

Sales metrics. The standard Sales 
Reports package offers no additional 
sales data, which is fine if you have a 
small business on eBay. The most ac- 
tive sellers, however, will certainly ap- 
preciate the advanced sales metrics 
offered by the Sales 
Reports Plus package. 

The advanced met- 
rics are grouped by 
category and by for- 
mat. In the case of 
category metrics, 
Sales Reports Plus 
specifies the total 
amount of sales, the 
total number of 
ended listings and 
items, the number of 
unique items sold, 
the percentage of 
items sold, and the 
average price for each 
item sold in each of 
your 20 primary mer- 
chandise categories. 
You also can view a 
list of all categories in 
which you sell. In the case of format 
metrics, Sales Reports Plus identifies 
the percentage of sales accounted for 
by each of eBay's three sales formats 
(auction, fixed price, or store). It also 
lets you view sales summaries for each 
sales format. 

A third set of metrics measures 
sales performance by ending day, time 
of sale, and listing duration. This 



helps you see when your sales occur 
and how long your listings are posted 
on eBay before selling. 

Archiving. eBay automatically 
archives all sales reports for a period 
of six months (for standard Sales 
Reports) or 24 months (for Sales 
Reports Plus). You can access the his- 
torical records by clicking the 
Archived Reports link along the left 
side of the Sales Reports or Sales 
Reports Plus page and selecting the 
report you want to view from the re- 
sulting list. You can view the archived 
reports at any time as long as you re- 
main a Sales Reports subscriber. If you 
let your Sales Reports subscription 
lapse — by failing to pay the monthly 
subscription fee, for instance, or by 
not selling any items during a four- 
month period — you will lose access to 
the archived reports. 



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Any eBay member in good standing who has listed one or 
more items during the preceding four months and who has a 
feedback rating of at least 10 can sign up for a free Sales Reports 
subscription. Simply visit pages.ebay.com/salesreports/sales 
reports.html and click the Sign Up Now! link. 



Printing. Assuming that your com- 
puter is properly connected to a func- 
tioning printer, you can output any 
sales report to paper by clicking the 
Print button in the upper- right corner 
of the report. Because eBay archives 
the reports online for a limited period 
of time, we recommend printing all 
reports and saving them with your 
permanent business records. 



156 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



Downloading. Subscribers of Sales 
Reports Plus also have the option of 
downloading their monthly or weekly 
sales reports as text documents. To 
download a sales report, open it and 
click the corresponding Download 
button in the upper-right corner of 
the report. Follow the on-screen in- 
structions to specify where you want 
to save the file and to begin the down- 
load. When the download is com- 
plete, you can open the sales report 



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The first step in the subscription process is deciding whether you 
want the standard Sales Reports package or the more robust Sales 
Reports Plus package. Make your choice and then click Continue. 



using any text-editing application. 
You also can import the data into a 
spreadsheet application. 

Announcements. At the bottom of 
every report is an area set aside for 
eBay announcements. Check the an- 
nouncements each time you receive a 
report to find out about updates and 
other important eBay-related news. 

eBay Analysis 

Obviously, the eBay Sales Reports 
packages have a lot to offer. They mea- 
sure sales productivity, calculate fee 
expenditures, count customers, and 
identify peak sales times, among other 
things. These are valuable metrics for 
any active eBay business to have and, 
as such, the Sales Reports should be 
considered one of the best seller-re- 
lated services that eBay has to offer. 



But there are limits to what the Sales 
Reports can do. The most significant 
limitation, if you want to call it that, 
lies in the fact that the Sales Reports 
provide data only. They do not pro- 
vide advice or recommendations about 
how to integrate the data into a 
strategic plan for your particular eBay 
business. Nor can they guarantee an 
increase in profits, a decrease in costs, 
or a flood of new customers. It's up to 
you to analyze the statistics, interpret 
their meaning to your 
business, and decide 
how to proceed. 

Fortunately, you 
don't need an MBA 
degree or even a sub- 
scription to The Wall 
Street Journal to 
learn how to make 
sense of your Sales 
Reports. All you 
need is an under- 
standing of basic 
business principles, a 
familiarity with the 
various summaries 
and metrics provided 
by the Sales Reports 
packages, and a re- 
cognition of what ex- 
actly the summaries and metrics 
can — and cannot — tell you. Armed 
with this knowledge, you can quickly 
learn how to use the Sales Reports sta- 
tistics to your advantage. 

Income. The sales-related metrics 
offered by Sales Reports help you 
put together an answer to one im- 
portant question: Where is your 
money coming from? You can get a 
specific answer by determining how 
your sales are distributed across the 
various eBay sales formats and by 
identifying the items or item cate- 
gories that account for the majority 
of your sales. You also should take 
note of the average selling price for 
particular items and the number of 
listings during a particular period. 
This information will help you un- 
derstand how you achieved your 
gross receipts. 



Of course, a single report is unlikely 
to provide enough information to be 
of much use. Smart sellers know this, 
which is why they put their sales met- 
rics in a historical context. The Sales 
Reports give you a head start by auto- 
matically trending sales data over a 
three-month period. You can track 
the information for longer periods by 
comparing an existing report to 
archived reports from the past six 
months or year. A long-term perspec- 
tive helps you recognize seasonal highs 
and lows that may affect your busi- 
ness. It also enables you to see the evo- 
lution of your business. Is your gross 
income growing or declining? Is the 
number of your successful listings in- 
creasing or decreasing? Are your sales 
coming from more or fewer cate- 
gories? Once you begin to understand 
where your money comes from, you 
can take steps to maximize the sale of 
items that generate the most income 
and weed out the items that do not. 

Expenses. As mentioned previously, 
the Sales Reports help you keep track of 
your eBay-related fees. They do not ac- 
count for any other expenses you 
might incur while running your busi- 
ness. When calculating the true cost of 
doing business on eBay, you must add 
to these fees the rest of your opera- 
tional overhead, including office and 
warehouse rent, utilities, computer 
equipment and Internet access, postage 
and delivery, advertising, taxes, em- 
ployee wages, and insurance. You can 
get a rough estimate of how much it 
costs to sell an item on eBay by adding 
up all of your overhead expenses and 
fees for a particular period of time, di- 
viding the total by the number of items 
you plan to sell during that same pe- 
riod of time, and adding the resulting 
amount to the cost of the item itself. 

This is just an estimate, of course, 
and proves most accurate when 
selling comparable items. You may 
need to make adjustments to the av- 
erage when it comes to determining 
the actual cost of selling particular 
items. The overhead expenses associ- 
ated with the sale of an old Michael 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 157 



Advanced eBAY 



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Only active sellers and members in good standing can have a 
Sales Reports or Sales Reports Plus subscription. If you fail to 
meet these criteria, you will receive an error message like this 
when you attempt to open a subscription. 



Jackson CD, for instance, are nothing 
compared to the overhead expenses 
related to the sale of a vintage 1957 
Chevrolet Corvette. 

Pricing and profits. After identifying 
your sources of income and calculating 
your expenses, the next step is to set 
prices that generate a profit. Review 
your Sales Reports to determine the av- 
erage price of items sold. This number, 
when multiplied by the number of 
items you expect to sell in a particular 
period of time, should be greater than 
the overhead expenses and fees that 
you expect to pay during the same pe- 
riod of time. You cannot profit 
by selling your items for less 
than what it costs to list them. 

Setting prices is tricky, 
though. Set your prices too 
high and you may not get any 
bites at all, forcing you to pay 
the insertion fee without gen- 
erating any income. If you set 
the prices too low, however, 
you may end up selling items 
below cost, if you don't set a 
reserve price. The process of 
setting prices is an inexact sci- 
ence. The various sales metrics 
provided by Sales Reports Plus 
give you a place to start, but 
ultimately you have to make 
the decision based on your 
understanding of your cus- 
tomers and your bottom line. 

Merchandise. Perhaps the 
easiest way to maximize 
profits on eBay is by replacing your 
worst selling items with your best. 
Refer to the category metrics provided 
by the Sales Reports Plus to determine 
which is which. Once you have identi- 
fied your best sellers, consider using 
eBay's multiple listing options, such 
as a storefront or Dutch auction, to 
sell the items more efficiently. 



Timing. Sales Reports Plus tracks the 
ending days and times of your suc- 
cessful listings. Refer to this informa- 
tion to determine when your sales are 
most profitable. Keep in mind that 
each listing ends at the exact same time 
you posted it (though on a different 
day). Because many successful bids are 
entered during the final hour of bid- 
ding, it makes sense to time your sales 
so they end when your customers are 
most likely to be at their computers. 
Avoid middle-of-the-night postings. 
Remember that some of your audience 
may live in a distant time zone. Setting 




eBay Stores sellers can sign up for their free Sales Reports Plus 
account by opening the Manage Subscriptions page of My eBay 
and following the Subscribe link listed under Sales Reports. 
Active eBay sellers should consider taking advantage of the 
other services listed here. 



an auction to end at 8 a.m. in New 
York means your California customers 
will have to be awake at 3:59 a.m. in 
order to place a last-minute bid. 

Speaking of timing, keep in mind 
that Sales Reports reflect past, and not 
current, eBay activity. The Sales 
Reports are compiled and published 
after a particular period of activity. 



They are not real-time updates about 
current selling activity. If you want to 
find out what's happening with your 
listings at any given time, you should 
sign in to My eBay and peruse the up- 
dates listed there. 

Extenuating circumstances. The var- 
ious metrics presented in a single re- 
port may present a false picture of your 
eBay business if anything out of the or- 
dinary occurred during the reporting 
period. Your income total may be low 
if you were unable to post listings for 
two weeks while you were away on va- 
cation, for instance. Conversely, the 
amount of total fees may be 
artificially high if you posted 
an unusually large number of 
listings during the reporting 
period. Take into account 
these extenuating circum- 
stances when assessing your 
Sales Reports so that you avoid 
making incorrect conclusions. 

Reports & Reality 

Of course, avoiding incor- 
rect conclusions is what a suc- 
cessful business strategy is all 
about. For this reason, you 
should view the Sales Reports 
as just one of many tools that 
can help you make smart deci- 
sions that ensure future suc- 
cess. Other tools that come in 

handy include the eBay Selling 

Manager and the eBay Seller's 
Assistant (see "How To Manage Bulk 
Listings" on page 159 in this issue for 
more information). It also helps to 
have a relationship with a small busi- 
ness accountant or advisor who can en- 
sure that you're getting the financial 
services your business needs. H 

by Jeff Dodd 



158 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



How To Manage 
Bulk Listings 

Sell Hundreds Of Products 
Without Losing Your Marbles 




Are you ready to move up to the 
big kids' sandbox? eBay's reg- 
ular selling tools are great for 
occasional sellers, but if you sell more 
than a handful of products each week, 
they're inefficient. After all, they're 
designed for ease of use, not speed. 

When you need to manage dozens, 
hundreds, or even thousands of simul- 
taneous sales, look to Turbo Lister and 
Selling Manager, two tools that work 
together to help you manage bulk list- 
ings more efficiently. 

Turbo Lister 

eBay's Turbo Lister (pages. ebay 
.com/turbo_lister) is a turbocharged 
replacement for eBay's Sell Your Item 
form. A tool for medium- and high- 
volume sellers, Turbo Lister lets you 
create hundreds or thousands of 
product listings in bulk. 

You don't have to sell hundreds of 
items at a time to use Turbo Lister, 



though; its features can be handy for 
all frequent sellers. Turbo Lister lets 
you save details about a product in 
order to sell it again and again, and it 
remembers your selling choices to 
save time. It includes a visual HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) editor 
for creating more attractive auction 
descriptions. You can use Turbo 
Lister's ready-made templates to make 
snappy-looking listings even if you 
don't know anything about HTML. 

The Preview Listings function lets 
you see what your auction will look 
like before it goes live. And the Bulk 
Edit function lets you change multiple 
auctions at once. 

Instead of using the Web browser, 
Turbo Lister is a separate program 
that runs on your PC. You'll need 
Windows 98 or later, but you don't 
need a very powerful computer: It 
only needs a Pentium II processor or 
later with 64MB RAM. You'll also 
need at least 20MB of free hard drive 



space (although high-volume sellers 
will need more.) The program is not 
available for users running MacOS or 
Linux. 

Turbo Lister is free, but you're still 
responsible for the regular eBay fees 
for listings that you create with it. 
(eBay's Fees are explained at pages 
.ebay.com/help/sell/fees.html.) 

Get Started 

To begin, download Turbo Lister 
or get it on CD-ROM. At 29MB, it's 
a rather large download. If you don't 
have a fast enough Internet connec- 
tion for a file that size, you can order 
a CD-ROM for the cost of shipping 
from www.theebayshop.com (you'll 
find it in the Business Tools sec- 
tion). To download the file, point 
your Web browser to pages. ebay 
.com/turbo_lister/download.html 
and click the Turbo Lister Web 
Setup link. Follow the prompts to 
install the program. 

The first time you start the pro- 
gram, you'll need to tell it about your 
eBay account and preferences. At the 
What Would You Like To Do? 
screen, choose Set Up A New Turbo 
Lister File. Type in your eBay user ID 
and password when prompted, and 
Turbo Lister will retrieve your ac- 
count details from eBay and ask you 
to confirm your contact information. 

Next, you'll be able to create a new 
item listing or import listings from 
your eBay account. If you choose 
Import, the program can import 
your current auctions, as well as ones 
that have ended in the past month. 
This is handy if you've already cre- 
ated auction listings that you would 
like to reuse. 

For now, choose to add a new 
item: Turbo Lister will ask whether 
you want to sell the item in an auc- 
tion, use a fixed-price format (that 
is, Buy It Now), or post a real estate 
ad. If you select the Save Selections 
checkbox, the program won't ask 
you this again next time, which can 
be a time-saver. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 159 



Advanced eBAY 



The next steps are similar to cre- 
ating an auction listing with eBay's 
regular Add An Item form. Enter the 
item title and optional subtitle and 
then choose a category and optional 
second category. The Find Category 
button brings up a handy expandable 
list of eBay categories: click each cate- 
gory's plus sign (+) to show subcate- 
gories and then click OK to choose 
your category. You can type the cate- 
gory number if you know it or click 
the Category field for a drop-down 
menu of recently used categories. 

Next is the Enter Your Description 
window, where you can include de- 
tails about the product you are 
selling. Features for saving time and 
making great-looking auctions 
abound in this window. 

You'll start in the Design View tab. 
Type the auction description in the 
top half of the window. You can use 
the text style tools located 
near the top of the window 
to change the look of the 
text: You can change the 
color, size, font, and align- 
ment of text and use bold, 
italics, or underlining for 
emphasis. The Numbering 
and Bullets buttons make it 
easy to make lists. 

If you constantly use the 
same text for auction list- 
ings, pay attention to the 
Inserts drop-down menu: 
Here you can enter text for 
fast insertion into your auc- 
tion listings. Choose Create 
An Insert. In the window 
that appears, give the insert 
a name (such as "Payment 
And Shipping") and type the text one 
last time — such as your standard 
payment and shipping requirements. 
Click Save. From now on, you can 
choose Payment And Shipping (or 
whatever you called your insert) 
from the Inserts menu, and that text 
will be instantly pasted into the 
product description. 

To add extra visual appeal to your 
listing, click the Use Designer button. 



From there, you can choose from var- 
ious themes and layouts. Listings that 
use the Designer cost 10 cents extra 
(twice that if you list the auction in 
two categories). 

In the bottom half of the Design 
View is the picture area, where you can 
add up to a dozen images to your auc- 
tion. Click one of the empty image 
boxes (labeled Click Here To Insert A 
Picture) and locate an image file on 
your computer. That image will auto- 
matically be added to the auction 
listing. The program uses eBay's image 
hosting service: The first image is free, 
and each additional image costs 15 
cents. If you prefer to put the images 
on another server, click the Change 
Photo Hosting link. In this case, you'll 
be prompted to enter the URLs (uni- 
form resource locators) of your images. 

At the very bottom of the window, 
click the Select A Counter button to 



Be sure to include words 
in the title that will attract 
buyers to click on your 
listing. You might also 
include abbreviations 
such as "NR" or "NIB" 



Create a New Item 

Enter fin Item title 

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The first steps of creating a new product listing are similar to those 
in the regular eBay seller form. 



insert a free hit counter to the auc- 
tion page. 

If you know HTML, click the 
HTML View tab, where you can see 
and edit the HTML code for your 
auction listing. Click the Preview tab 
to see what your auction listing will 
look like. 

When you're happy with the 
listing, click the Next button for the 
final step of the auction listing, 



Format Specifics. Here you can set the 
Starting, Buy It Now, and Reserve 
prices, the duration of the auction, 
quantity of products, and other pay- 
ment and shipping details. Take the 
time to do this right the first time be- 
cause most of these settings can be 
saved as the default for future use. 
When you're done, click Save. 

Item Inventory Window 

Now that you've created your 
listing, you'll be looking at the Item 
Inventory window, which lists all of 
your auctions in Turbo Lister's data- 
base. If you want to create a second 
auction of the same product, now or 
later, highlight the auction and click 
the Duplicate button. Double-click 
the new item to change any specifics, 
such as title or category. 

Your auctions have not begun yet: 
They only exist on your PC. 
HI The advantage here is that 
you can get many auctions 
ready without waiting for 
information to be sent to 
eBay's Web site. When 
you're ready to start the 
auctions, Turbo Lister up- 
loads them to eBay. You 
could queue up dozens or 
hundreds of auctions, start 
the upload process, and 
walk away. 

When you are ready to 
upload the listings to eBay, 
select the items that you're 
ready to sell and click the 
Add To Upload button. 
Click the Upload button, 
and your auctions will begin. 
Products waiting to be uploaded 
appear under the Listings Waiting To 
Upload tab. A handy feature there is 
the Calculate Listing Fees button: 
Highlight one or more auctions, click 
that button, and the program will tell 
you what it will cost to list them on 
eBay. (The fees for each auction will 
appear in the Fees column.) You can 
also use the Change Start Time 
button to delay the auction start until 



I Ne«t> | 



160 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



■:.."■ :: ;: 




a future time (an extra 10- cent fee ap- 
plies for this service). 

Once you create an auction listing, 
it takes almost no effort to list that 
item again. The products that you just 
listed for sale are still listed under the 
Item Inventory tab. So 
you can sell an identical 
item now or in the future 
by highlighting it and 
clicking Add To Upload. 

Double-click an item 
on the Item Inventory 
page to edit it. Instead of 
the three-step Create A 
New Item form, you can 
edit inventory that's al- 
ready in the list with the 
Auction Details window. 
This single screen lets you 
view and edit every aspect 
of the auction. It's a con- 
venient way to change any 
element of an auction be- 
fore you relist it. 

The Edit Multiple Items 
command, located under 
the Edit menu, is particu- 
larly useful for wholesale 
changes to your listings. 

Select two or more items 

on the Item Inventory 
window and choose Edit Multiple 
Items. Now you can change the 
Starting, Buy It Now, and Reserve 
prices, payment methods, shipping 
costs, and other details for all selected 
inventory in one fell swoop. 

Remember, Turbo Lister is dedi- 
cated to adding listings; you can't use 
it to change an auction's description 
or other information after uploading 
it. Any changes you make with the 
Edit Item or Edit Multiple Items com- 
mands will change the item for the 
next time you start a new auction for 
that product. Use the My eBay section 
of the Web site or the Selling Manager 
(described below) for that. 

More Turbo Lister Features 

You can use the Multiple Items 
function to save time when selling 



items such as books, DVDs, music 
CDs, video games, digital cameras, 
PDAs (personal digital assistants), 
and so on. From the Item Inventory 
page, click the Create New button and 
then choose Multiple Items. Now you 







our Description 



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The Designer option provides extra layouts and graphics that you can use to 
create sharp-looking product listings. 



can enter the ISBN (International 
Standard Book Number) number, 
UPC (Universal Product Code) 
number, or other identifying infor- 
mation about your products, and 
eBay will automatically add informa- 
tion about them and pictures of them. 
All you'll have to do is pick a category 
and add any information specific to 
your product. 

You can also add the same ready- 
made product information to a 
listing that you've already created by 
right-clicking its entry in the Item 
Inventory and choosing Add Pre- 
filled Information. 

Turbo Lister's Import and Export 
functions, both available under the 
File menu, are useful for busy sellers. 
The Export Selected Items command 
will create a comma-delimited text 
file (also known as a CSV file) with 



information about the items in your 
inventory, which you can open in 
your spreadsheet application. The 
Import Items command lets you 
create new inventory items from CSV 
files, from other power-users' tools 
(such as Seller's Assistant 
and Mister Lister, an ob- 
solete program), and from 
current and past eBay list- 
ings. The latter is a quick 
way to bring products 
into the program that you 
listed before downloading 
Turbo Lister. 

The CSV file support is 
very useful for moving in- 
formation between Turbo 
Lister and other pro- 
grams. CSV is simply a 
text file with informa- 
tional fields (such as 
product name, starting 
price, description) in a 
specific order separated 
by commas. If you have a 
list of products in your 
spreadsheet, you can 
create a CSV file using 
your spreadsheet's export 

command and import the 

list into Turbo Lister. 
Use the Change Format button to 
switch a product listing between 
auction and fixed-price formats. For 
instance, if you are selling some T- 
shirts via auction and want to sell 
other T-shirts for a fixed price, high- 
light an auction, click the Duplicate 
button, and click Change Format to 
change its format to Fixed Price. 
Then double-click the product to 
edit it, set the price, and upload that 
new item. 

When you have hundreds or more 
products in the Item Inventory list, 
finding a particular one might be 
tricky. Use the Search button to find 
products that include the words you 
specify in the title or description. The 
Activity log (choose Activity Log from 
the View menu) helps you keep track 
of which products you have uploaded 
to eBay, and when. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 161 



Advanced eBAY 



If you sell different types of prod- 
ucts that you would like to keep orga- 
nized separately, Turbo Lister offers a 
couple of ways to organize them. You 
can click the Item Inventory folder 
and select New Folder to create sub- 
folders for your product listings. Or, 
choose New User File from the New 
menu to create another user within 
Turbo Lister. You can associate the 
new user with the same eBay account 
or a different one. To switch between 
accounts later, choose Users from the 
View menu. 

If you need more help with Tur- 
bo Lister, visit the Turbo Lister Dis- 
cussion Board (forums.ebay.com 
/dbl/forum.jsp?forum=34). You can 
ask and answer questions and read of- 
ficial announcements and helpful 
hints from eBay. 

Selling Manager 

Turbo Lister helps you get auctions 
going. Selling Manager (pages. ebay 
.com/selling_manager) is the answer 
to the other part of the equation: 
managing auctions once they have 
started and when they have ended. 
Combined, Selling Manger and 
Turbo Lister are a powerful team for 
busy sellers. 

Selling Manager tracks sales, letting 
you monitor active listings and 
schedule future listings. When the 
auction is over, it tracks your com- 
munication with the buyer, including 
details such as whether the buyer has 
paid and you've shipped the item. 
Email templates speed up such com- 
munication with the buyer; you can 
leave feedback in bulk using pre- 
written messages and keep track of 
the feedback buyers leave for you. 
When it's time to ship, the utility can 
print shipping labels and invoices, 
even combining items sold to one 
buyer into a single invoice. 

Unlike Turbo Lister, Selling Man- 
ager is a Web-based tool, so it works 
on any computer and doesn't require 
a download. And unlike Turbo 
Lister, Selling Manager isn't free: It 



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The Format 
Specifics 
window is the 
final step in 
creating an 
auction or 
Buy It Now 
listing. 



The cluttered 
Edit Item 
window lets 
you change 
anything and 
everything 
about a 
product 
listing. 



costs $4.99 per month after a 30-day 
trial period. 

For high-volume and business 
sellers, there is a more powerful op- 
tion: Selling Manager Pro, which 
costs $15.99 per month. The Pro ver- 
sion adds monthly profit and loss re- 
porting, automatic buyer notification 
when you receive payment and ship 
the product, and automatic posting of 
feedback. It lets you print invoices 
and labels in bulk and can also help 
manage your inventory, including 
keeping track of how many products 
you have to sell and alerting you 
when it's time to restock. Finally, it 
includes many of the features of 
Turbo Lister, eliminating the need to 



use both applications. You can find a 
full comparison of Selling Man- 
ager and Selling Manager Pro at 
pages.ebay.com/selling_manager 
/comparison.html 

To start using either tool, go to the 
Selling Manager information page 
(pages.ebay.com/selling_manager) 
and click the Subscribe Now link. 
Here, we'll look at the features of the 
standard Selling Manager. 

Once you've signed up, the Selling 
view in My eBay will be replaced by a 
new Selling Manager view. It can take 
a couple of hours for your auction in- 
formation to become available in the 
Selling Manager view. So take a break, 
come back to the computer in a while, 



162 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



- -■- 



eb 



My eB.iy Views 
My Summary 



go to My eBay, and click the Selling 
Manager link. 

Summary Page 

You'll see the Selling Manager 
Summary page, which shows 
how many scheduled, active, 
and sold products you have, 
plus other useful informa- 
tion. The Summary page can 
remind you of what you 
need to do next: It shows 
how many products are paid 
for but need to be shipped, 
how many have questions 
pending from potential 
buyers, and how many re- 
main unpaid. Click any of 
those links on the Summary 
page for a list of the products 
that need your attention. 

Click the Active Listings 
link to get the rundown on 
the auctions that you're 
running currently. This is 
similar to the ordinary 
Selling page, but Selling 
Manager adds some useful 

features. Select the check- 

box next to an item and 
then click Add Note to store com- 
ments or reminders for that item, 
which will be visible only to you. 
Click the Customize link to change 
the order of, or information shown 
in, the columns. 

After The Auction 

Selling Manager really shines once 
the auction has ended. Just click the 
Sold link to see a list of recently 
ended auctions. 

To email a buyer, click his email 
address. An Email Buyer form will 
appear. Use the Template drop- 
down menu to choose a form letter 
to send the buyer. These include 
Winning Buyer Notification (your 
first contact once an auction has 
ended), Payment Reminder, Ship- 
ping Notification, and others. To 
save you time, the forms are prefilled 



with the relevant information. The 
Winning Buyer Notification, for ex- 
ample, lists the item won and gives 
the total cost including shipping. 
You can edit the message to include 
any special information for that 



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Print shipping labels, leave feedback, and keep track of payment and 
shipping progress with the Selling Manager's Sold page. 



buyer and then click the Send Email 
button to deliver it. 

Messages sent with this system 
come from eBay's servers, with an 
eBay.com From: address, so they are 
more likely to make it to the buyer's 
inbox instead of his spam filter. 

The email templates are generic 
enough that they should be fine for 
most sellers. If you would like to add 
information to those boilerplate mes- 
sages, click the Edit Templates link. 
There you can personalize the canned 
messages to save time later. Because 
the templates automatically fill in the 
specifics for each auction, you can use 
macros (which eBay calls "automatic 
text"). "{TOTALS}", for instance, will 
be replaced with the total cost of the 
sale including shipping and insur- 
ance. eBay provides a complete list of 
autotext macros at pages.ebay.com 
/help/sell/autotext.html. 



Sales Record Page 

The Sales Record page is an ex- 
tremely useful feature, but there's no 
big Sales Record button, so it's very 
easy to miss it altogether. On the Sold 
page, you'll notice that each ended auc- 
tion has a record number. 
Click that record number to 
reveal the Sales Record page 
for that product. The page 
lets you figure the buyer's 
shipping cost and print an 
invoice and packing slip. 

In the Buyer Details sec- 
tion, you can enter the ad- 
dress and other contract 
information for that buyer. 
The Instant Fill In Box can 
speed the process: Just copy 
the buyer's name and ad- 
dress from an email mes- 
sage, paste it into the box, 
and click the Add button. 
The address will automati- 
cally be moved to the ap- 
propriate fields. Next is the 
Transaction Details area, 
where you can compute the 
shipping, handling, and tax 

for the product. 

With the address and 
shipping information entered, click the 
Print Invoice button. Here you can 
print an invoice and a packing slip. 
You can also choose Invoice For Your 
Own Records, which produces a sim- 
ilar invoice with your private sales in- 
formation and notes included, as well. 
Finally, at the bottom of the Sales 
Record page is the Status And Notes 
section. There, you can log when the 
product was paid for and shipped and 
write other notes to yourself. It also 
tells you if you have sent and received 
feedback for that transaction. There 
are other areas within the Selling 
Manager to do these things, but this 
can be a convenient way to manage all 
of these details in one place. 



Sold & Shipped 

So the buyer receives your invoice 
and pays for a product. Back at the 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 163 



Advanced eBAY 



Selling Manager's Sold page, select 
the checkbox next to the item and 
use the Change Status drop-down 
menu to make a note of that. The 
options there are Paid, Shipped, and 
Paid & Shipped. A confirmation 
page will appear where you can 
make a note of which method the 
buyer used to pay. If the buyer used 
PayPal via the link included in the 
invoice, the payment status will up- 
date automatically. 

When you are ready to ship the 
item, click the checkbox next to 
that item and click the Print 
Shipping Labels button. This will 
bring up your PayPal account, 
where you can print labels for the 
U.S. Postal Service or UPS. (USPS 
labels are only available if both 
you and the buyer are in the 
United States.) If you have linked 
your eBay and PayPal accounts, 
the buyer's address information 
will be prefilled. 

Enter the package weight and 
type of mailing service you want 
and the site will print a mailing 
label, complete with postage, the 
cost of which is deducted from 
your PayPal account. In addition 
to the cost of postage, there is a 
20-cent fee per label, but it beats 
standing in line at the post office. 

More Selling Manager Tools 

Now that the product has been 
paid for and shipped, you can leave 
feedback for the buyer. Selling 
Manager helps with this, too. Back 
on the Sold page, select an auction 
and click the Feedback button. There 
you can leave feedback by choosing 
one of several prewritten comments 
from the drop-down menu. (Or, se- 
lect several auctions to leave feed- 
back for many buyers at once.) 
Imagine, no more leaning on the 
plus sign (+) key to type A++++++. 
You can click the Edit Stored 
Comments button to change the de- 
fault comments or create your own, 
with a maximum of 10. 



Also on the Sold page, click the 
Relist button to quickly start an auc- 
tion or Buy It Now offer for an iden- 
tical product. You may select several 
auctions at once and then click Relist 
to relist them in bulk. Or click the Sell 
Similar button, which lets you edit the 
categories and description before 
relisting a new item. 

The Download button is a useful 
tool for tracking sales trends. Select 
some or all of your past auctions and 
click Download. This action will 



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Selling Manager lets you leave feedback for a single 
buyer or dozens of buyers at once. 



download Sales records for those 
items to your computer as a CSV 
text file. You can import that file 
into your spreadsheet application to 
sort and search your sales history. 
Sold and archived products are 
available for download for four 
months after an auction closes, and 
there is a maximum download size 
of 10,000 records. 

Click the Download Sales History 
link for a more configurable version 
of the download utility, located in the 
Seller Tools box. There you can 
choose which records to download by 
limiting the selection by time period 
or only download items that are 
awaiting payment or shipment. 



There's more handy information 
in the Seller Tools box, including in- 
formation about the eBay Accounting 
Assistant, which exports your sales 
information into QuickBooks, and 
access to the standard My eBay 
Selling page. 

Once an auction is paid for and 
you ship the product, select it and 
click the Archive button. That will 
move it from the Sold page to the 
Archived page, where it will be out 
of sight but still available for refer- 
ence later. Click the Archived 
button to review archived sales. 
They're grouped by month for 
easy reference. 

Not every auction is a success 
story. Products that didn't sell in 
the allotted time are listed on the 
Selling Manager's Unsold page. 
From there you can relist the 
item if desired. The Archive 
button is replaced on this page 
with a Delete button. If you're 
done trying to sell that product, 
select it and press Delete to 
banish it. 

Going, Going, Gone! 

Have questions about Selling 
Manager? There is a discussion 
board devoted to it at forums 
.ebay.com/dbl/forum.jsp? 
forum=116. In addition to user 
Q&A, the forum serves up the latest 
news about new features and up- 
coming enhancements. 

Selling Manager and Turbo Lister 
are like peanut butter and chocolate: 
two great tastes that taste great to- 
gether. For moderate to heavy sellers, 
the pair should be enough to make 
selling on eBay faster, most efficient, 
and ultimately more profitable. Heavy 
sellers might want to consider for- 
going Turbo Lister and pick up 
Selling Manger Pro, which incorpo- 
rates Turbo Lister's features and adds 
bulk- processing functions. H 

by Kevin Savetz 



164 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



Cash In On Co-op 
Advertising 

Big-Time Sellers Save 
While Promoting Their Products 



In eBay parlance, anyone who 
sells a lot of stuff and pleases a 
lot of buyers in the process is 
honored with the title of Power- 
Seller. And membership in this 
clique comes with privileges that 
create a virtuous circle — helping 
PowerSellers to sell even more of 
their stuff. For more information 
about PowerSellers, see "eBay's 
Elite" on page 142. 

One of these benefits is the Co- 
op Advertising Program (www 
.ebaycoopadvertising.com). It of- 
fers PowerSellers money, paid by 
eBay, to advertise their wares of- 
fline in media such as newspapers 
and magazines. PowerSellers can 
get as much as $8,000 every three 
months, in a calendar quarter. 

But, hefty as that sum is, it is 
not available to everybody. Nor is 
it necessarily a lot of money rela- 
tive to the cost of an advertise- 
ment in a publication. Plus, there 
are limitations that eBay puts in its 
reimbursement guidelines to reduce 
its payouts. Moreover, getting the 
money ultimately also hinges on fol- 
lowing specific steps in the claims 
request process. 

There are five PowerSeller levels. 
From lowest to highest, they are 
Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and 
Titanium. Respectively, the quar- 
terly amounts that eBay will pay to 
PowerSellers under the Co-op Ad- 
vertising Program are $500, $800, 
$1,200, $3,000, and $8,000. How- 
ever, these quarterly payouts are 
given on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. 




Whatever portion of the allotment 
the PowerSeller does not spend will 
not be carried over to the next cal- 
endar quarter, eBay stipulates. 

In addition, eBay stipulates that it 
reimburses only for the cost of an 
advertisement, not for related ad 
costs, such as commissions or pro- 
duction costs. 

And forget about following eBay's 
own example and trying to expand 
your business internationally. In an- 
other limitation, eBay will pay only 
for advertisements in a U.S. publica- 
tion for items listed on the U.S. eBay 
site (www.ebay.com). According to 
eBay's guidelines, "Reimbursement 



will not be granted for international 
store promotion." 

You can submit your claim for reim- 
bursement anytime during the period 
when your ad is running. But be careful 
not to pay for an ad that runs longer 
than two months. That is because in 
yet another stipulation, eBay insists 
that it will reimburse the PowerSeller 
only if the user submits his official 
Reimbursement Request Form within 
60 days of the advertisement's first run 
date, also called the insertion date. 

None of these items may be 
submitted online. Instead, all 
claims must be submitted to eBay 
by regular mail, to a post office 
box in Arizona. 

Don't look for a check in the 
mail. Your eBay Co-op Advertising 
Program reimbursement will be 
granted in the form of a PayPal 
credit, within 45 days after eBay re- 
ceives the claim. PayPal is an elec- 
tronic money transfer service 
owned by eBay. (See "How To Use 
PayPal" on page 74.) 

Don't delay submitting your 
claim. If you wait until close to the 
end of the 60-day deadline, you 
may not see any money back until 
nearly three and a half months 
after your ad has run, or in the 
next calendar quarter. 

Be aware, too, that there are 
more guidelines to follow when 
submitting a claim. The reim- 
bursement request form must include 
a preapproval authorization number 
that eBay provides to you when it ap- 
proves your ad, as well as a copy of 
the invoice for the advertisement 
from the publication, and a copy of 
the advertisement itself, in the form 
of a tear sheet, the page with the ad, 
ripped from the publication. 

Before all else, choose carefully how 
and where you will advertise. 

The Reimbursement Process guide- 
lines say that eBay will subsidize an 
advertisement only in publications 
with a minimum circulation number 
of at least 10,000. You must prove the 
circulation number of the publication 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 165 



Advanced eBAY 



in which you advertise, by providing 
eBay with the publication's rate card, 
which states the circulation number 
among other information. You must 
include the rate card when you 
submit your completed reimburse- 
ment request form. 

Only general circulation newspa- 
pers, magazines, or Yellow Pages are 
automatically authorized advertising 
outlets under the Co-op Advertising 
Program if their advertising rates and 
circulation numbers can be indepen- 
dently verified by an outside audit firm 
specializing in such verification. (An 
example is the Audit Bureau of Circu- 
lations, whose Web address is www.ac- 
cessabc.com.) If you want to place 
your ad in a catalog, a newsletter 
insert, such as the one you get 
with your Sunday newspaper, or 
in a direct-mail campaign, you'll 
need to get eBay to preapprove 
any of these outlets. If you do get 
preapproval from eBay, you will 
then need to prove to eBay that 
your advertisement was in fact 
sent to the target audience, that 
the target audience has at least 
10,000 recipients, and that there 
was no duplication; counted 
among the 10,000, you may not 
send the advertisement to any of 
the recipients more than once. 

You can find a partial list of the 
publications in which PowerSellers 
have advertised in the past under the 
Co-op Advertising Program at this 
Web page: www.ebaycoopadvertising 
.com/QualifiedPublisher.aspx (you'll 
have to log in to your eBay account to 
view this page). There are nearly 100 
publications on the list, ranging from 
Ahwatukee Foothills News, based in 
Phoenix, Ariz., to New York City's 
renowned Village Voice. 

You may want to advertise in a 
publication with which eBay has cut a 
deal in advance to offer a discount off 
its advertisement rates to eBay sellers. 
The five publications listed in this 
Preferred Publisher Program all are 
aimed at collectibles buffs. They are 
AntiqueWeek, Collectors News, and 



Collector Editions Magazine, each of 
which offers a 25% discount; and 
AntiqueWest and Southeastern An- 
tiquing Magazine, each of which offers 
a 10% discount. 

Ironically, eBay does not reim- 
burse Co-op users for online or elec- 
tronic ads. 

In addition to the publication in 
which the advertisement will appear, 
eBay insists on preapproving the ad- 
vertisement itself, prior to its place- 
ment in the publication. According 
to eBay, the company's support staff 
will review your ad and render a 
judgment within one business day 
after receiving it. (Don't submit your 





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PowerSellers who want more bang for their advertising 
buck should register for eBay's Co-op Advertising 
program on the Co-op home page. 

ad on a Friday or a Saturday, or 
you'll be waiting at least an extra day 
for a response.) 

If eBay deems your advertisement 
worthy, you will be granted the 
preapproval authorization number to 
insert in the reimbursement request 
form. If not, eBay will send you an 
email telling you what needs to be 
changed in your advertisement so it 
can be preapproved. Once you have 
made the requested changes to your 
advertisement, you must resubmit the 
fixed advertisement to eBay, to re- 
apply for a preapproval authorization 
number. Simply making the changes 
without making another request for a 
preapproval authorization number 
will not make you eligible to receive 



money from eBay under the Co-op 
Advertising Program. 

The preapproval process has some 
caveats of its own. Specifically, 
preapproval numbers expire 90 days 
after they are issued. If you publish 
an approved ad after the 90-day 
timeframe, you'll need to resubmit 
the ad for approval so you can 
qualify for a reimbursement. 

In its quest to make using eBay as 
simple as possible, the company of- 
fers an Ad Creation Wizard that will 
walk you through a five-step process: 
Select the advertisements format, 
size, and type; select a template; enter 
your information; select an image (a 
preapproved eBay logo or your 
own logo or image); and preview 
your advertisement. You can find 
the link to the Ad Creation 
Wizard on the Co-op Advertising 
home page. 

To take advantage of the last 
step, you will need to have 
Adobe Acrobat Reader on your 
computer. You can download 
the software for free from Adobe 
(www.adobe.com), and eBay 
provides a link to the Adobe 
home page. 

After you complete the adver- 
tisement, you must upload it to 
the My Ads page. From there, 
you can submit it for preapproval 
by clicking the Submit button. 

Of course, eBay reserves the right 
to eliminate a template from the Ad 
Creation Wizard at any time. But the 
company promises to notify you of its 
intention to do so well in advance, 
giving you time to revise your adver- 
tisement so that it continues to ad- 
here to eBay's preapproval guidelines. 
Finally, don't forget to check with 
the publication in which you plan to 
advertise. Publications usually have 
their own guidelines and requirements 
for advertisements, with which you 
must comply, and these may not match 
the requirements set forth by eBay. Qjs] 

by Robert E. Calem 



166 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



Search Words 
Are Key 

Use eBay's Keywords To Target Your Audience 




Veteran eBay users are accus- 
tomed to fine-tuning their 
product searches by entering the 
most pertinent keywords in the eBay 
product search field. Likewise, eBay 
sellers spend considerable time popu- 
lating the search terms section of their 
product listings. eBay's keywords 
make it possible for you to place ads in 
response to buyers' searches and draw 
special attention to your product 
when it might otherwise be missed in 
a jumble of soon-to-expire auctions. 

What Are Keywords? 

Sellers choose keywords to link to 
products they're selling that they be- 
lieve buyers would use when searching 
for those items. Here's how it works. 

Let's say a buyer is looking for a 
guitar. Most eBay users know that 
they should make their search query 
specific so they're more likely to find 
the exact products they're looking for. 
So, rather than simply typing guitar or 
even fender guitar in the search box, 
they enter fender stratocaster. The list 
of auctions related to Fender 
Stratocasters appears on-screen, with 
the auctions that will end soonest at 



the top of the page. We tried this 
particular query and received a list 
of 1,386 results. If your auction still 
has five days to run, it's a fair bet that 
most potential buyers won't know 
about it for two or three more days, 
because your auction will be situated 
near the end of the list. 

That's where eBay Keywords can 
help. When you search for an item on 
eBay, you may see advertisement boxes 
related to the search item in the header 
of the search results page. These ads ap- 
pear because the search terms you used 
matched those of the ads. The keyword 
ads can direct the customer to your 
auction items, to your store, or to a 
particular item in your store. But there 
are a few important things to know 
about setting up your own keywords. 

Key Issues For Keywords 

The basic rules of engagement for 
setting up keywords are simple. You 
must have a current auction with 
more than two days remaining, you 
must have a feedback score of at least 
20, and your keyword ads can only 
link to locations on eBay. These rules 
help ensure that any keyword ads 



displayed with searches are from cur- 
rent sellers. In addition, you should 
only buy keywords for products you 
sell. eBay reserves the right to re- 
move irrelevant ads so that keyword 
ads remain focused and relevant to 
the search at hand. 

If you've added keywords to a Web 
site in order to improve the site's 
ranking among search engines, you 
know there's more to picking key- 
words than simply adding all the re- 
lated terms you can think of to your 
site's pages. Being selective when using 
eBay keywords is even more impor- 
tant because, unlike search engine 
submissions, you pay for eBay key- 
words by the click. 

When you create a keyword-based 
ad for the item you're selling, you de- 
termine a total budget to spend for 
the ad campaign, then you bid for the 
price you will pay each time a viewer 
clicks your ad. Your competition is 
other sellers using the same keywords 
or phrases, and the higher your bid, the 
more frequently your ad will appear to 
buyers who use your search terms. 

One important point to remember is 
that your payments are based only on 
the number of times a buyer clicks 
your ad, not on the number of times a 
buyer simply views your ad. Your ad 
may be shown 10,000 times, but if it is 
clicked only 10 times, your bill will be 
10 times your bid amount. The goal is 
to have your ad appear as many times 
as possible to those searchers most like- 
ly looking for your specific product. 
You'll want the ad to draw as many 
clicks as possible from those buyers. 

Smart Phrasing 

Keywords can be more than simple 
words. You can select a two- or three- 
word phrase that produces a more tar- 
geted ad than a single word. In our 
example, using only the keyword 
"guitar" will generate a tremendous 
number of exposures. But if a buyer is 
only interested in a steel guitar, which 
you don't have available, you will have 
paid for a click from a shopper who 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 167 



Advanced eBAY 



isn't interested in what you're selling. 
On the other hand, if you run a guitar 
store and want to draw the attention of 
buyers interested in any kind of guitar, 
this may be a great keyword for you. 

In keeping with eBay's auction men- 
tality, keywords are "won" by the 
highest bid, and the more bidders for 
the same keyword, the higher the cost 
of each click. Winning a keyword 
simply means that your ad will appear 
first, or more often than, someone 
else's lower bid for the same keyword. 
Even if you aren't the highest bidder, 
your ad will still appear, but less fre- 
quently than the highest bidder's ad. 
Under these conditions, you are likely 
to find a lower cost per click by bid- 
ding on a two- or three-word phrase 
because it is less likely that several 
sellers are using the same combination 
of words. eBay's Keyword Suggestion 
Tool will help you find words and 
phrases to bid on. To find the Keyword 
Suggestion Tool, go to ebay.admarket- 
place.net and click the Use Our Key- 
word Suggestion Tool link. 

We used the keyword "guitar" in the 
Keyword Suggestion Tool and found a 
list of 42 phrases that contained guitar. 
Each phrase includes a cost-per-click if 
the phrase is currently being used. For 
example, the phrase "Les Paul Guitar" 
had a cost-per-click of 50 cents. Those 
that are not in use have no competitive 
cost shown. Use this information to 
decide if any of the suggested keywords 
match your item and choose whether 
to compete for a phrase that is particu- 
larly well suited to your auction. Once 
you know the highest bid for a key- 
word, you can create your ad and as- 
sign the cost-per-click amount you've 
decided to use for your keyword. The 
Keywords function will automatically 
put your ad in rotation with the others 
in the category and display yours ac- 
cording to your payment amount. 

Put The Keywords To Work 

Once you have an auction in place, 
it's time to start an advertising cam- 
paign. From the eBay Keywords home 



page (ebay.admarketplace.net/ebay 
/servlet/ebay/psp/promotools) , click 
the Get Started Now button. You will 
need to register with eBay Keywords 
even if you already have an eBay ac- 
count. Your first task is to enter your 
eBay user ID, then create a name for 
the campaign. Next, decide on the 
amount you will spend on this cam- 
paign. This amount is completely up 
to you, but must be $20 or more. Then 
enter the total amount of funds you 
want in your Keywords account. If you 
already have funds in the account, the 
remaining amount will appear. 

In the Create Or Edit Your Cam- 
paign Ads box below, type a name for 



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your ad. Next, click the Create Ad 
button. On the next page, eBay asks 
what auction you want to link to the 
ad; select an item from the list that ap- 
pears. The items in the list depend on 
what you are selling, but you must 
have at least one auction active in 
order to create an ad. Next select the 
particular auction item. 

Now enter your 40-character ad 
message. Three examples are shown for 
reference. Be specific in your message 
regarding the item's details and price. 

When you complete your message, 
click the Proceed To Keyword Selec- 
tion button. The minimum price per 
click is 10 cents. Enter the price you 
want to pay per-click based on your 
earlier research using the Keyword 
Suggestion tool. A list of suggested 
keywords is shown with check boxes 



next to each. You can add your own 
words or phrases by clicking the Add 
Keyword(s) button. Check each of the 
keywords you want to use. You can se- 
lect all the suggestions and your own 
entries, but you must choose at least 
one keyword. 

Each keyword shows its highest bid 
from your competition next to the 
amount you've entered. You can set 
each keyword to outbid the competi- 
tion or simply not use keywords that 
are too expensive. When you've set 
your keywords, click the Proceed To 
Ad Review button. 

At the top of the page, select how 
long you want the ad to run. You will 
typically have it run for the length of 
the auction, but it's also possible to 
select a particular date range. You can 
also preview your ad on this page. 
Make sure it looks exactly as you want 
it to, with no spelling errors. Then 
click the Proceed To Payment button. 

You'll have to supply your credit 
card number or PayPal information so 
eBay can bill you, and you can also 
enter an amount that will automatical- 
ly be charged to the account if your ad 
exceeds your initial funding. You will 
be asked for your funding source as the 
last step in the process of setting up 
your ad. Simply enter your credit card 
information or your PayPal account 
information and the funding for your 
ad campaign will be charged against it, 
just as any other online purchase. 

Your ad will begin to appear to 
shoppers when they search for items 
using the terms you selected. Keep 
track of the performance of your ads by 
using the Reports link at the top left of 
the eBay Keywords home page. You 
can choose to view a report on one or 
all of your ads, and the date range you 
want to review. Use the information to 
plan your next ads or to modify your 
current ads. However you use the in- 
formation, you've made your products 
more visible to interested shoppers and 
only paid for the number of times they 
clicked your ad. H 

by Scott Koegler 



168 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Advanced eBAY 



Deals On Wheels 

Track Online Auctions Without Wires 



If your eBay experience evolves 
from a casual hobby to a lifestyle 
to a full-time job (or most-of- 
the-time job; you don't have to give 
up your day gig to make a killing as 
an eBayer), you'll dread activities 
that pull you away from your com- 
puter. Sure, you can outsource most 
chores and errands to family mem- 
bers, but neither real life nor eBay 
have Pause buttons, which 
means that you'll eventually 
miss something important. 
You'll leave for Bobby's 
soccer game, confident that 
you'll win the bid on an oh- 
so-resalable item, only to 
find out later that you were 
outbid before the your rear 
wheels left the driveway. It's 
enough to make you wish 
you could take eBay on the 
road, and — wouldn't you 
know it — you can. 

eBay stores all user infor- 
mation, including your crit- 
ical My eBay pages, on its 
servers, which means that you 
can access your eBay account 
from any device that has an 
Internet connection and an In- 
ternet browser: a desktop, a note- 
book, or even a PDA (personal digital 
assistant) that is within range of a 
wireless network. However, all of 
these devices (save for PDA/phone 
hybrids) require wireless or wired 
Ethernet connections, which aren't 
available at most grocery stores and 
soccer games. 

But heavy-duty eBayers can access 
eBay through a wireless phone, a ser- 
vice that is almost ubiquitous. eBay 
takes advantage of mobile phone 
networks by offering text message 
alerts, a special, phone-friendly eBay 
interface, and support for certain 



third-party applications. As long as 
you have a modern phone that lets you 
surf the Web, you can lengthen your 
eBay leash. 

eBay Anywhere Wireless Alerts 

Remember the good oP days, when 

you passed paper notes to your 

friends during class? Paper is passe, 

and besides, 




Billy always peeks at the notes before 
grudgingly passing them along. In to- 
day's world, text messages replace 
paper. It's the digital equivalent of a 
note (plain text, no graphics) but un- 
like a note, it can reach any text mes- 
sage-enabled phone (whether your 
contact is in the classroom or in an- 
other state) and bypasses Billy com- 
pletely. That said, the text message has 
legitimate uses. You might send a silent 
text message to a friend in a movie 
theater, to avoid irritating viewers, for 
example. And thanks to eBay, you 



can receive text message alerts that let 
you know when you win or (more 
importantly, perhaps), when you've 
been outbid. 

Once you register a free eBay 
account, you can enable the eBay 
Anywhere wireless alerts via your com- 
puter. Sign in, click the My eBay tab, 
and then click eBay Preferences under 
My Account. Click the Notification 
Preferences' View/Change link, and 
then click Add Or Change Notification 
Services under Change Your Notifi- 
cation Preferences. 

At this point, you'll see eBay Any- 
where Wireless alerts. Click the eBay 
Wireless Email link and click the Send 
Wireless Email Alert To The Address 
Below radio button. Next, you'll need 
to enter your wireless email address 
(for example: smart@smartcom- 
puting.com; your mobile 
phone service assigned this 
address to your account 
when it activated the ac- 
count). Chances are, you can 
find it in your phone's infor- 
mation section, but if you 
don't know your wireless 
email address, you'll need to 
call your service provider. 

When you return to the 
Notification Preferences 
page, you'll notice that the 
Current Notification Serv- 
ices You Are Using lists the 
Anywhere Wireless service. 
You can also sign up for other 
alerts, such as FeedBack Notification, 
by clicking the appropriate check- 
boxes on the page. By default, eBay 
sends alerts when you're outbid or 
when you win an auction. Once 
you're outbid, you'll receive an email 
that lists the item name. 

Our only beef with eBay Anywhere 
Wireless is that it sends wireless email 
instead of a standard SMS (Short 
Message Service) message. As a result, 
you'll need to connect to your service's 
network to retrieve your alert emails. If 
eBay sent regular SMS messages, the 
alert would appear in your phone's 
text message section and automatically 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 169 



Advanced eBAY 



trigger your phone's ringer. We prefer 
the message that appears on our phone 
instantaneously to the message that 
waits for us in our online inbox. 

Wireless eBay 

Your phone's small screen can't 
easily handle eBay's large, informa- 
tion-packed pages, so eBay offers a 
WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) 
version of the site. The WAP eBay 
pages contain the same auctions but 
have very simple (often text- only) con- 
tent that lets you navigate the gigantic 
site at a reasonable pace. To visit eBay 
via your mobile phone, start its Web 
feature and then visit wap.ebay.com. 

Unlike eBay's glitzy main page, the 
WAP version's main page has only four 
links: Search, Categories, My eBay, and 
Sign In/Out. There are two ways to se- 
lect the links. You can select the links 
by highlighting them with the phone's 
directional pad and then pressing the 
OK button. But each link also has a 
number, which means you can ditch 
the directional pad completely and se- 
lect a link by pressing the corre- 
sponding number on the keypad. 

Despite the streamlined interface, 
you'll find that you can access most of 
eBay's critical features from your 
phone. Most importantly, you can 
sign into your My eBay area. The 
wireless version of My eBay doesn't 
let users start new auctions. (We were 
a little surprised to see that it lacks 
this option.) However, the section lets 
users keep an eye on items that they 
have already put up for sale, and it 
lets them watch items on which they 
are bidding. eBay clearly gears its 
WAP version toward buyers: You can 
not only watch your bids and receive 
alerts when you are outbid, but you 
can also place new bids. That's right, 
when you receive an outbid alert 
while sitting in the dentist's office, 
you can get back in the game without 
ditching your appointment. 

Users can also search for new 
items. The WAP eBay lets users search 
for items by keyword, and it also lists 



dozens of categories and subcate- 
gories, so you can browse sections or 
hunt for a specific item just as you 
would when at your computer. Once 
you find an item, you can view its 
description and even its picture. 

Third-Party eBay Applications 

Although the WAP eBay lets you 
navigate eBay and complete basic 
tasks, it isn't as fast or as user-friendly 
as some third-party programs. eBay 
promotes two of these applications: 
Bonfire Media's Pocket Auctions 
(AT&T, Cingular, Sprint, and Verizon) 
and Waymobile. corn's AwayAuction 
(Alltel, Midwest Wireless, US Cellular, 
and Western Wireless). 

Pocket Auctions, which is available 
for $3.99 a month, retains more of the 




Forget the hot deals and featured items: 
The WAP version of eBay has a simple, 
streamlined interface. 



real eBay's look and feel than the 
WAP version. As with the WAP ver- 
sion, Pocket Auctions' main page has 
four categories (including My eBay), 
but when you use the Search feature 
to find items, you'll notice the fa- 
miliar white and gray stripes that 
separate items right away. 



But the interface boasts much more 
than stripes. Alex Poon, former eBay 
employee and co-founder and CEO of 
Bonfire Media, is well aware that mo- 
bile users need clean, simple interfaces. 
"Most wireless applications use stan- 
dard programming widgets to build 
their user interfaces, which results in 
text-based, slow- scrolling screens that 
are unattractive and non-eBay-like," 
Poon says. "Our application uses 
custom-built UI (user interface) wid- 
gets that are not only graphical, but use 
a single-button selection for naviga- 
tion. We also use animation and 
graphics techniques to give our appli- 
cation an even more refined look and 
feel for phones that support it." 

As with the WAP version of eBay, 
this software lets you view item de- 
scriptions and pictures, but it also of- 
fers a few features WAP eBay lacks. For 
one thing, the software retrieves all 
items when you perform a search, 
which means that when you want to 
skip to the next item, you won't need 
to wait while your phone reconnects to 
the network — the next item appears in- 
stantly. Because you'll spend less time 
reconnecting to the network, you can 
navigate the site quickly. 

Another important feature is Pocket 
Auctions' SMS alert. Unlike eBay's text 
message alerts, which arrive in your 
wireless email inbox, the Pocket 
Auctions alerts arrive in your text mes- 
sage section, triggering your phone's 
ringer. Users sign up for the Outbid 
and Item Won alerts by entering their 
mobile phone numbers at Bonfire's 
Web site (www.bonfiremedia.com). 

On The Road Again 

None of these applications replaces 
eBay's standard Web site, of course. If 
you want to sell items, you'll need to 
use eBay from a PC. But when you're 
on the road, these mobile applications 
may mean the difference between win- 
ning and losing an item forever, or at 
least until someone else lists it again. Qjs] 

by Joshua Gulick 



170 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



Hop On To 
Half.com 



Great Deals, Bid-Free 




If you don't have the time or 
patience for eBay's auction 
process, check out Half.com, a 
fixed-price online marketplace 
that provides a smooth and 
convenient conduit between seller 
and buyer. Launched in 1999, the 
Half.com premise was simple: Make it 
easy to sell an item online, and make 
it easy for a potential buyer to find 
and purchase it. To enable this 
streamlined process, Half.com fo- 
cused on items that lent themselves to 



an easily standardized approach, such 
as books, movies, games, and music 
CDs. 

In the same way brick-and-mortar 
stores are stocked with inventory be- 
fore the doors open to the public, 
Half.com waited until a million 
items were listed before officially 
opening the site to buyers. Traffic 
and transactions soared quickly, with 
more than 100,000 customers regis- 
tered in the first hundred days. As 
with eBay, many of those items were 



for sale not by individuals cleaning 
out the garage, but by small busi- 
nesses that saw a chance to increase 
their market space from a neighbor- 
hood or town to the whole country, 
or in some cases, the whole world. 
Dot-com mania was in full swing, 
with new online enterprises and 
IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) on 
every e-corner. Businesses that 
weren't even possible a decade earlier 
became household names in the 
techno-lexicon of a new digital era. 
Investors poured money into every- 
thing from eToys to E-Trade. It was 
a heady time. It was also a fiercely 
competitive period, as a growing 
number of skeptics warned that the 
e-fervor wasn't sustainable. 

At Half.com, however, the plan 
was working and the early months 
saw solid growth. eBay was paying 
attention. The auction giant was al- 
ready intimately familiar with the 
business of linking buyers and 
sellers, having tapped into the busi- 
ness advantage of providing a service 
that was in obvious demand while 
avoiding the pitfalls of traditional 
retail. The fixed-price Half.com 
marketplace was a natural comple- 
ment to its existing operation. By 
mid-2000, Half.com's customer 
ranks had swollen to a quarter-mil- 
lion and the site contained a hefty 4 
million items for sale. On June 13, 
2000, eBay announced that it would 
acquire the startup. 

Today, eBay and Half.com still 
operate as separate entities, sharing 
only a customer registration data- 
base: Register at eBay, and you're 
automatically registered at the 
Half.com site, and of course the con- 
verse is true. Although Half.com has 
expanded to sales of computers, 
electronics, and a plethora of other 
goods, its original staple items — 
books, movies, music, and games — 
remain front and center. 

In addition to the obvious differ- 
ence in format (fixed-price vs. auc- 
tion) another major difference at 
Half.com, as compared to the eBay 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 171 



Other eBAY Sites 



way, is the manner in which some 
shipping charges are determined. On 
books, movies, music, and games, 
Half.com sets the standard shipping 
price by item, ranging from $2.49 for 
games, DVDs, and CDs, to $3.25 for a 
hardcover book. At standard rates, 
the seller must ship via USPS Media 
Mail or better. If the seller chooses to 
offer expedited shipping, such as 
Priority Mail, FedEx, UPS, or Air- 
borne, the buyer will pay anywhere 
from $4.99 to $5.45. If the buyer buys 
more than one item from the same 
seller, the additional items are shipped 
at a discounted rate. 

The Half.com marketplace has 
evolved into a smooth, very user- 
friendly operation. Even though a 
buyer may be buying a dozen dif- 
ferent items from a dozen sellers, 
there's one shopping cart and one 
checkout process, which greatly en- 
hances convenience. Once you've 
completed a transaction, you can 
leave feedback on the other party's ac- 
count, a mechanism that provides a 
measure of accountability. Because 
the customer database is shared across 
both eBay and Half.com, the feedback 
is integrated, as well. 

Now for that all-important ques- 
tion: How are the prices? An unscien- 
tific stroll through the site reveals a 
wide range of typical discounts. 
Computers, electronics, and similar 
merchandise fetch stronger prices, 
which is good news for sellers. Buyers 
will find their best deals on the core 
items that launched Half.com, books, 
movies, music, and games. On these 
items, especially books, deep dis- 
counts are common, with the selling 
price often less than the shipping 
costs. You can find fairly recent hard- 
cover titles for less than $2, although 
the cheapest shipping option will raise 
the total to $5.25. In the end, if you 
enjoy bargain-hunting but like to do 
business in a hurry, Half.com is defi- 
nitely worth a look. [b$1 

byJerryHatchett 



A Quick Lonk At 



IThe home page is clean and uncluttered, anchored 
by an easy-to-use tabbed menu bar at the top. The 
category tabs take you to the various departments, 
with specialized tools to help you find what you want within 
each category of merchandise. 



3 Panels on the left feature key links within 
each category. Navigation is intuitive and 
straightforward, especially for a site with such 
a huge number of different items for sale. 



5 The center of the home page tends to fea- 
ture newer and/or more popular items. 
Handy, but these items may not be available 
at the deep discounts that can be found on not- 
quite-as-new merchandise. To find the greatest 
selection and best values, you'll need to drill down 
into the various categories. 



7 The Computers & Software category doesn't 
contain the selection breadth and depth found 
in books, movies, music, and games. Great 
deals can be had on software, however, if you don't 
mind using a slightly older version of a program. 



8 If you prefer to see all your options at a 
glance, scroll to the bottom of the page, 
where a concentrated group of links is avail- 
able to take you anywhere you want to go within 
the Half.com marketplace. 



. http://half.ebay.com/ind 



,.!'-„ 




t^)lfc. 



Categories 







;dvd) 

$12.99 



Audiobooks ^^^^ 

VoMKBnnl/ I 



| Books 



Named the International Thriller oft 
only witness to the murder, 



Textbooks 

on ail your 
Textbooks! 



In-Stock Now! 
Ttie Pa Vinci Code , D 






@ Movies 



Half.com Top 200 
CDs 12.99 or less 
Your Music 
Recommendations 
Sell your Music 







f& Musk 



In-Stock Now! 



Nintendo 64 

P52 

Xbox 

more platforms... 

PS2 70% off 

Xbox 70% off 



m Video Games 






Computers S So] 
Electronics 
Eveivthiini Else 

Sell Your Stuff 



€1 



Travel through highly detailed surroi 



Itock Now! 

lOM ri= U.S. Navy Seals fPS21 



€ 



172 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



Half.com 




Becks Textbooks Music 



Certificates Wish List Pre-Orders Recommendations Sell Your Stuff 

search: All Categories 
"fl (SEM&LSSV® \VftffiE© Save up to 70%! 

Bestselllng DVDs 




Q 



Ray (DVD) 
s low as $15.99 



rtphnnlc f nun} 



s low as $17.99 



MyAccount 

■ 



In the Spotlight 



J DVD Box Sets 



it banker and his beautifu :e who is also the 







superstore 



Bargain Bins 



Hardcovers $1.99 01 






DVDs 17.99 or less 

Xbox 70% off 

' 

Dreamcast 80% off 
Nintendo 64 80% off 



. '. ■ ' ■-:..-■ . . ■. . ' .■....:■ ' ■ . 



■ • ■ :. : . - 



$49.9' 



i 



o 






; 



2 Tight integration between Half.com and 
eBay provides a convenient, efficient ex- 
perience. Register at one site, and 
you're automatically registered at the other; 
the same is true with login. There is one major 
difference during checkout, however: PayPal is 
a recommended means of payment at eBay, 
whereas it's not accepted at all at Half.com. 



4 Once you're signed in, the upper-right 
panel provides quick access to fre- 
quently accessed elements of your 
Half.com account. Being signed in allows for a 
much more personalized experience 
throughout the site. 



6 Value seekers will want to take an e- 
stroll through the bargain bins for sure. 
Some of the discounts are huge, but re- 
member that you'll have to pay shipping for 
each and every item you buy; keep your eye on 
the bottom line. 





Reference Series / Guide To eBay 173 



Other eBAY Sites 



Buy On Half.com 

Find Popular Products At Great Prices 




Half.com is a buyer's paradise, 
especially if your materialistic 
affections lean toward books, 
games, and music. Not Half.com, 
Ore. That's a town of 345 people, a 
self-described "paradise for outdoor 
enthusiasts" located 40 miles south- 
west of Hells Canyon, Ore. Go there 
for scenic vistas and bald eagles 
(town.half.com). 

We're talking about Half.com 
the virtual destination. Launched in 
1999 and purchased the next year by 
auction giant eBay, Half.com is a 
marketplace that lets individuals and 
businesses list a plethora of items for 
sale at a fixed price of their choosing. 
You'll find items new and used from 
thousands of different sellers and sav- 
ings that run the gamut from mild 
discount to uber-bargain. Although a 



variety of goods are now listed on 
Half.com, the core goods on which 
the site was launched — books, mov- 
ies, music, and games — are still front 
and center today. 

Bargain Books 

Half.com's book selection is huge 
and includes everything from old first 
editions to current bestsellers. New 
books. Used books. Remaindered 
copies, which are books that didn't 
sell in the bookstores and are being re- 
turned to the publisher. Even ARCs. 
(ARC is an acronym for advanced 
reader's copy, copies that are generally 
sent out to members of the press be- 
fore the book is released, in hopes of 
garnering reviews to help drive sales.) 
In addition to the vast selection, books 



are arguably the greatest value on the 
site. Paperbacks for less than $1 are 
common, as are recent hardcover edi- 
tions priced at $3 to $5. Bear in mind 
that these are examples; sellers set the 
prices, and, of course, not all titles 
will be available at prices like these, 
but many, many are. Even the newest 
hardcover bestsellers are virtually al- 
ways available at significant discounts. 
To illustrate, when last we checked, 
John Grisham's "The Broker" had 
been out for a couple of weeks and 
was No. 1 on the the New York Times 
bestseller list. It lists for $27.95 and is 
discounted to $16.77 at both Amazon 
and Barnes & Noble. At Half.com, the 
book club edition, which is the same 
book in a slightly smaller size, is avail- 
able brand new for $10. The standard 
retail hardcover, again brand new, is 
available for $12. And remember, this 
is actually one of the more expensive 
examples of Half.com book prices. If 
you don't mind reading books that 
have been on the market for a few 
months, you can almost always buy 
them ultra-cheap. One thing to be 
aware of as you load up your shopping 
cart, however, is shipping. We'll cover 
this topic in detail a bit later, but for 
now we'll just point out that it's not 
uncommon for the shipping charge to 
be more than the price of the book. 

CD Savings 

Music lovers of every flavor may 
also develop a loving relationship 
with Half.com. Every genre imagin- 
able is represented, and most titles 
yield plenty of discs from which to 
choose, in conditions ranging from 
Brand New to the lowest rung on 
the condition ladder, "Acceptable," 
which essentially translates into, 
"Expect a CD that plays properly, but 
not much else." As with books, the 
best bargains are found on titles that 
are not quite on the leading edge. 
You can still save on the newest, most 
popular CDs, though not as much as 
older titles: $10 to $12 is common for 
a brand-new disc, as opposed to the 



174 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



$15-or-more price tag that you'd find 
at many music stores, and Acceptable 
items typically go for around $5. As 
title age increases and popularity de- 
creases, the prices drop pretty dra- 
matically. You can often buy last 
year's big hits that have left the charts 
for $6 to $8 brand new, while you can 
buy used items for $1 to $3. Big sav- 
ings, to be sure, but as with books, it 
pays to keep an eye on the bottom 
line, including shipping. 

Mix In A Movie 

If you're a movie buff, you'll be 
glad to know you can find almost 
any recorded movie in existence on 
Half.com. An admittedly unscientific 
survey of titles and prices suggests that 
even the hottest titles are often avail- 
able at significantly lower prices than 
those found at traditional e-tailers. 
For example, the widescreen 
DVD version of "Ray," a top 
seller as of this writing, is going 
for $19.99 at BestBuy.com and 
$20.99 at Amazon. On Half 
.com, the same DVD can be 
bought in "Like New" condi- 
tion for $10.99 or Brand New 
for a couple dollars more, trans- 
lating into savings in excess of 
30%. Not bad! Move to titles 
released a few weeks ago and, 
as we found with books and 
music, the discounts deepen. 
M. Night Shyamalan's latest 
movie, "The Village," is avail- 
able at prices ranging from 
$7.88 (Good Condition) to 
about $12 for copies listed as 
Brand New. The same DVD 
sells for $19.99 at BestBuy.com 
and $22.49 at Amazon. 

Although we recommend 
using caution when shopping 
for used items and buying from 
individuals, the DVD segment 
merits an extra word of cau- 
tion. Books are, of course, ro- 
bust, and it's not likely that 
even an abused book will be 
unreadable. Compact Discs, 



while vulnerable, are also a fairly 
durable medium. A lightly scratched 
CD may well play perfectly due to the 
improved error handling capability of 
modern CD players. DVDs, however, 
are less tolerant of abuse and careless 
handling than other media. A lightly 
scratched DVD may result in garbled 
clips within a movie, or it may even 
freeze up completely, rendering it 
useless. Do be aware of this increased 
sensitivity and make your buying de- 
cisions accordingly. 

Get in the games. Gamers in search 
of bargains should find the key when 
they click the Video Games tab at 
Half.com. Halo 2 Limited Collector's 
Edition for Microsoft's Xbox sells at 
BestBuy.com for $57.99. Half.com 
sellers offer the same game for about 
$35 to $40. ESPN NFL 2K5 (also for 
Xbox) sells at BestBuy.com for $19.99. 
At Half.com, you can get the same 




Half.com is the fixed-price foil to eBay's auction marketplace 



game for less than $10 (Like New) 
from multiple sellers or spend three 
dollars more for a brand-new copy. As 
with books, movies, and music, the se- 
lection is wide and deep, with virtually 
any title imaginable available from 
plenty of different sellers. 

More Than Media 

Moving beyond these "staple" 
items, Half.com now has two addi- 
tional categories in play, Computers 
& Software and Electronics. Com- 
pared to the staples, however, the se- 
lection in these new categories doesn't 
compare. To demonstrate, a search 
for the ultra-popular iPod (40GB 
version) yielded only six hits at 
Half.com. Only one of those six was 
listed by a seller with feedback more 
than 100 (more later on why this is 
important), and all six were listed as 
Brand New, at prices ranging 
from $350 to $393.21. By con- 
trast, the same search at eBay 
generated well over a hundred 
hits, and that's actual iPod 
40GB players, not including the 
hundreds of iPod accessories 
that showed up in the search. 
Other items in the Computer/ 
Software/Electronics segments 
were similarly scarce at the 
Half.com site. 

One segment of these new 
channels that does offer an in- 
triguing opportunity for buyers 
is software. As is the case with 
other items, if you don't need 
the latest and greatest version, 
some excellent software packages 
can be bought for a fraction of 
their original cost. This, how- 
ever, is another category of 
merchandise that cries out for 
an additional word of caution. 
When shopping for software, it 
is imperative to know that you're 
buying legitimate programs and 
not illegal counterfeits. You may 
also encounter software that has 
already been installed, but the 
owner doesn't need it anymore, 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 175 



uninstalls it, and offers it for sale. 
Before buying software like this, you 
should always check with the manufac- 
turer to see if such a transfer will be 
honored by them as legitimate. 

To sum up the discussion of these 
new categories, it certainly can't hurt 
to explore this area of the Half.com 
marketplace, but we think it's reason- 
able to conclude that the Computers & 
Software and Electronics categories just 
haven't produced the ex- 
citement of the core items 
on which the marketplace 
was founded and grown. 

Buying Features 

Browsing Half.com for 
items of interest is conve- 
nient and similar to the 
experience found at major 
online retailers. An om- 
nipresent top navigation 
bar leads to the major cat- 
egories of items: Books, 
Music, DVDs/Movies, 
Video Games, Computers 
& Software, and Elec- 
tronics. Clicking one of 
these category tabs then 
yields logical subcate- 
gories that you can use to find the 
exact type of item you're looking for. 
If you prefer a more straight-line ap- 
proach to virtual browsing, the search 
system will quickly take you where 
you want to go. The Half.com system 
also employs a recommendation en- 
gine to suggest items that hopefully 
appeal to you. The recommendations 
are based upon an algorithm that 
watches the items you buy, as well as 
the way you rate various items should 
you choose to play a more active role 
in shaping your recommendations. 

Another handy feature on Half 
.com is the ability to create a wish list. 
If you search for an item that isn't 
currently available, you can place it 
on your wish list and ask to be noti- 
fied via email when that item becomes 
available later on. You can also put 
in- stock items in the wish list, to keep 



track of items you don't want to buy 
right then. 

Although eBay and Half.com are 
distinctly separate entities, eBay's 
stamp of ownership is definitely pre- 
sent and visible. Search for an item on 
Half.com, and underneath the listings 
you'll often find a heading of Related 
Items On eBay, with links to similar 
items up for auction at eBay. Carrying 
the integration a step further, the two 




Half.com 
are often 



also has a category devoted solely to textbooks, where the prices 
dramatically less than those found in campus bookstores. 



marketplaces share a single customer 
database. Register at eBay and you're 
automatically registered at Half.com. 
Log in at one, and you're simultane- 
ously logged in at the other. Although 
some privacy advocates might dislike 
the notion of being registered at a site 
they've never even visited, we find the 
integration to be an appealing conve- 
nience. Now, to give you a more de- 
tailed look at the Half.com shopping 
experience, we'll walk through the 
process of finding and buying an item. 
Get the goods. Susan Readsalot 
has read every book in the local li- 
brary and decides to check out the se- 
lection at Half.com, where she's heard 
great deals abound. She could, of 
course, browse the virtual aisles of the 
Half.com store, hoping to spot some- 
thing that appeals to her, but today 
she has something particular in mind. 



Susan is a Tom Clancy fan and read in 
an interview that Mr. Clancy is a big 
fan of a thriller writer named Kyle 
Mills, and that he has a particular spot 
in his heart for "Rising Phoenix." 
From the Half.com home page, she 
clicks the Books tab on the navigation 
bar up top. When the main Books 
page loads, she types kyle mills into 
the search field and clicks Go. The 
search results page shows 35 selections 
from Mr. Mills, including 
"Rising Phoenix" at the 
top of the list. Unfortu- 
nately, it's the paperback 
edition, and Susan much 
prefers the heft of a good 
hardcover in her hands. 
She scans the list and 
spots exactly what she's 
looking for, "Rising Phoe- 
nix" in hardback. (Each 
version or edition of a 
book will show up as a 
separate selection at 
Half.com.) 

Susan clicks the book's 
title and is transported 
to a page that shows a 
few hardcover copies of 
"Rising Phoenix" for sale 
at Half.com, separated 
into groups by condition. Brand New 
Items are at the top of the page, fol- 
lowed by Like New Items, Very Good 
Items, and Good Items. In the Very 
Good Items category, she spots one 
priced at $1.95 from a seller named 
johnny_sellsalotofbooks and clicks 
the More Info link, which takes her to 
the specific page for this one partic- 
ular book. Underneath the Seller's 
Description, she sees that john- 
ny_sellsalotofbooks has entered the 
comment, "Brand new book at a used 
price!" Susan is as excited as anyone 
to find a bargain, but she's also been 
burned before and decides to look a 
bit deeper before committing her 
cash. To the right of the seller's name, 
she sees the number 34 in paren- 
theses. She clicks the number and the 
seller's feedback page loads. This 
page, which reflects feedback on 



176 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



transactions from both Half.com and 
eBay, is crucially important, for it is 
here that a marketplace member's 
reputation, whether as buyer or seller, 
is laid bare for all to see. A summary 
shows that johnny_sellsalotofbooks 
has 49 positive feedback entries, along 
with 15 negatives. A quick perusal of 
the negative comments shows that 
this seller has a habit of selling "Brand 
New" books whose pages are torn, 
stained, falling out, or just plain 
missing. Not good! Susan backs out 
and chooses another copy of 
"Rising Phoenix." 

(NOTE: johnny _sellsalotof- 
books is a fictional seller who 
does not exist in the Half.com/ 
eBay system as of this writing. 
In the event a similar seller 
turns up during your searches, 
do understand that any simi- 
larity is purely coincidental.) 

Susan researches another 
seller who has a history of 
happy buyers, and she clicks the 
Buy! icon. Having done busi- 
ness on eBay before, she logs 
into the system and proceeds to 
checkout, where she discovers 
another difference between 
eBay and Half.com. On eBay, 
you can pay for purchases via 
PayPal. At Half.com, you must 
pay with a major credit card 
instead. But the checkout pro- 
cess is straightforward, and 
within a couple of minutes, 
Susan has made her first purchase from 
a Half.com seller. 

Behind the scenes, the Half.com 
system notes the sale and sends a 
notification email to the seller. The 
seller is obligated to confirm Susan's 
order (usually by email) within two 
business days and then ship the 
book to Susan within 24 hours of 
that confirmation. 

As noted earlier, many items are 
available via Half.com at huge dis- 
counts, but you should keep shipping 
costs in mind. At Half.com, sellers of 
computer, software, and electronics 
items can set their own shipping 



prices, so you should always pay close 
attention; some sellers offer low prices 
and then charge exorbitant shipping 
rates. On the staple items — books, 
movies, music, and games — Half.com 
sets the standard shipping price. 
Shipping prices for games, movies, 
and music CDs are $2.49. Book ship- 
ping can cost up to $3.25. At these 
standard rates, the seller must ship 
the items by USPS Media Mail or 
better. Some sellers also offer expe- 
dited shipping, such as Priority Mail, 




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Game aficionados can often score deep discounts on Half.com 



FedEx, UPS, or Airborne. For these 
options, the buyer pays anywhere 
from $4.99 to $5.45 per staple item. 

Unlike eBay, where each purchase 
is a standalone transaction between 
one buyer and one seller, Half.com 
lets buyers make multiple purchases 
from different sellers through one 
unified checkout process. This is a 
nice convenience, but unlike many 
online shopping experiences, this 
does not automatically result in a 
lower per-item shipping charge. If 
you buy 10 hardcover books from 10 
sellers, you still pay $3.25 per book 
for standard shipping. The buyer can 



get discounted shipping on additional 
items, but the additional items that 
incur the lower shipping prices must 
be purchased from the same seller. 

Virtual marketplaces such as Half 
.com can make for fun, even adven- 
turesome shopping for those who 
get an adrenaline rush when they find 
a great bargain. Do remember, how- 
ever, that it's important to be a wise 
shopper if you want the enjoyment to 
last. The same factors that make ultra- 
low prices possible, allow individual 
sellers who are free to sell at 
rock-bottom prices if they so 
choose, also come with an in- 
herent risk. That risk can be 
mitigated by carefully re- 
searching the feedback of those 
you want to do business with 
and asking all the right ques- 
tions up front; if you have a 
question about an item, ask it. 
Your question will be sent via 
email to the seller and also 
posted publicly on that item's 
listing page, as will the seller's 
response. If you don't under- 
stand the seller's response, ask 
for clarification. If you don't 
get a satisfactory response, 
don't buy the item. Also re- 
member that while the risk can 
be lessened, buying from indi- 
viduals doesn't always provide 
the same level of accountability 
that can be expected from 
major, reputable online re- 
tailers. Some Half.com sellers are in- 
deed retailers who use Half.com as an 
additional sales channel, but you 
should not assume that the same 
terms and conditions apply to items 
you buy from them through Half 
.com, as apply to items bought 
through their own site. Ask the ques- 
tions and resolve the issues up front, 
so you can be an informed buyer. 
Once your purchase arrives, you can 
contribute to the strength of the feed- 
back system by entering the details of 
your experience. ® 

by Jerry Hatchett 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 177 



Other eBAY Sites 



Sell On Half.com 

An Easy Way To Peddle Your Products 



When eBay began to become 
popular, it seemed like the 
ideal way to get rid of all the 
junk that accumulates around the 
house. You could sell items that were 
no longer valuable to you to people 
who were looking for them. Like a 
vast online yard sale, millions posted 
their offerings and uploaded images 
describing things the rest of the world 
didn't even know existed. We've spent 
hours browsing for and bidding on 
items we hoped to find a good deal 
on and have been satisfied with 
our transactions. Similarly, 
we usually found a good 
buyer when we tried to sell 
the items we were ready to 
part with. 

However, listing many 
items for auction on eBay 
can be time consuming, so 
eBay provides an alterna- 
tive site called Half.com 
that functions more like 
an online store than an 
auction house. Like a retail 
store, Half.com specializes 
in a few types of goods and 
doesn't sell others, so the 
listing process is greatly 
streamlined, letting you sell 
more items faster. If you're 
looking for a competitive 
market for your merchan- 
dise without all the hassle in- 
volved with online auctions, it might 
be just what you're looking for. In 
this article, we'll explain how Half 
.com works and show you how to use 
it to sell your goods. 

How The Other Half Sells 

Half.com is a division of eBay but 
functions quite differently from its 



parent site. Here's how it works. 
Sellers list their items for free, but 
only certain types of items are ac- 
cepted; mostly books, music, movies, 
and video games, but also computers 
and software, electronics, sporting 
equipment, and miscellaneous items 
such as tools, office furniture, jew- 
elry, and toys. Sellers set whatever 
prices they want, but shipping 
charges are standardized for each 




type of item. When a buyer is 
looking for, say, a DVD, she searches 
for the title, and the Web site dis- 
plays a list of sellers offering it. Then 
she can choose who to buy from 
based on the price, the advertised 
condition, and the seller's customer 
satisfaction feedback rating. The 
buyer pays Half.com with a credit 
card, and Half.com pays the seller 



after the seller ships the item, after 
taking a commission on the sale. 
The charges start at 15% for transac- 
tions under $50 and decrease for 
more expensive items. 

This system makes selling some 
items online easier than eBay in four 
ways. First, the kinds of items you can 
buy and sell are much more limited. 
Because Half.com only trades in a 
subset of goods, it better organizes the 
items offered to make them easy to 
find. Second, because Half.com already 
likely has information about the items 
you're selling, you normally don't need 
to provide a picture or a detailed de- 
scription of the item. For example, if 
you want to sell a book, all you need to 
provide is the ISBN (International 
Standard Book Number) and condi- 
tion it's in. The Web site provides a 
stock photograph of the cover and 
relevant publishing details. Third, 
sellers set fixed prices and 
list items for free until 
they sell. There are 
no bids, so there's no 
chance of an item 
selling for too low a 
price. Fourth, buyers 
and sellers don't have 
to exchange money 
directly. When a sale 
occurs, the buyer pays 
Half.com with his 
credit card, and Half 
.com notifies the seller 
to ship the item. The 
seller never sees the 
buyer's private credit 
card information. 

Opening Your Account 

Once you're ready to sell an item 
on Half.com, you'll need to set up a 
seller account. You may have already 
bought items on Half.com, but you'll 
need to register as a seller to list your 
own items. Currently, Half.com limits 
sellers to those in the United States; 
in fact, Canadians are the only non- 
Americans who can even buy items 
on the site. This means that if you 



178 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



don't live in a U.S. state, you'll need 
to list your items on eBay instead, un- 
less you're in the military and have an 
APO or FPO address. 

To set up a seller account, point 
your Web browser to half.ebay.com 
and click the My Account button at 
the top of the page. If you already 
have an eBay or Half.com buyer's ac- 
count, you can add a seller's account 
to it, otherwise you'll need to register 
for a new account and supply your 
personal information. Either way, 
once you're logged in, click the 
Become A Seller button on the left 
side of the screen. First you'll enter 
your credit card information. Half 
.com won't charge you to list items, 
but it keeps the information on file 
to prevent fraud and to make sure 
that it can supply your buyers with re- 
funds if need be. Next you'll be asked 
to enter your bank account and bank 
routing numbers, the codes written 
on your checks, so Half.com can de- 
posit your profits for you. 

List Your First Item 

Before you start, make sure that 
your item is permitted for sale on the 
site. Half.com has relatively strict rules 
about what wares you can hawk on its 
electronic sidewalk. You may be able 
to sell all kinds of items at the more 
permissive eBay, but Half.com pro- 
hibits the sale of some items. For ex- 
ample, you can't sell music on CD-R 
unless you're the copyright holder, 
even if the sale is legal, such as the sale 
of a disc you bought from a local 
group. Half.com also has other restric- 
tions that seem arbitrary but exist to 
make the marketplace run smoother. 
For example, music can only be sold 
on CD; no tapes, no records. If you 
have questions about Half.com's sales 
policies, consult the Help Desk pages 
at half.ebay.com/help/index.cfm?help 
section=allowed_items. 

Open half.ebay.com in your Web 
browser and click the Sell Your Stuff 
link at the top. A new page will open 
asking you to choose your category. 



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To sell a 
Product 
identify 



The choices are Books, Music, Movies/ 
DVDs, Games, Computers & Software, 
Electronics, and Sporting Goods. 
There's also an Everything Else cate- 
gory, but generally if your 
item doesn't fall into one of 
the main groupings, you're 
probably better off listing on 
eBay. Click the category that 
best represents your item. 

The screen you see next 
will depend on the kind of 
item you chose. If you're 
selling a book, CD, movie, or 
video game, then all you'll 
need to do is enter the item's 
ISBN or UPC (Universal 
Product Code) number. This 
number is usually right 
above or below the barcode 
printed on the item. Half 
.com will retrieve all the data 
associated with that product 
automatically. If you're sell- 
ing products that aren't books, music, 
movies, or games, you'll need to de- 
scribe your item a bit by choosing the 
best categories for it from a series of 
menus. To list your digital camera, 
for example, you'd first choose the 
Electronics category and select Cam- 
eras from the menu. Half.com will 
then show you a list of camera types; 
picking the Digital Cameras item will 
then let you choose a Manufacturer. 
Finally, you'll see a list of models. 
Once you choose yours, Half.com 
will know what you're selling. In the 
event your item isn't listed in 
Half.com's database, you'll have the 
option of adding it by filling out a 
page of detailed information about 
the product's features. 

The next step is to let buyers know 
what kind of condition your item is 
in. Is the insert of your CD creased, or 
is the whole disc still in shrink-wrap? 
Do your textbooks remain unopened, 
or have they been used as coasters? 
Perhaps both? The amount of detail 
you can add varies from item to item, 
but you don't have to include a long- 
winded description, especially if your 
item is in good condition. Uploading 



photographs is allowed and even en- 
couraged for some hard-to-describe 
items. In the Add An Image panel of 
the description page, click the Browse 



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Gift Certificates Wish List Pre-Orders Recommendations Sell Your Stuff 



Selling music at Half.com is easy and rewarding! 

To start selling, just enter the UPC number of your CD and click 'Continue 1 . 



Use the Multiple Item Listing page to list n 



e item at a time. 



Find out more about selling... 

aect your privacy and security | Half.o 



What is a UPC number and how do I find it? 

UPC codes are unique catalogue numbers that identify a particular 
item. They can be usually be found on the back of your product. 

Pictured is an example to help you find the UPC number of your CD. 

More tips on ISBN and UPC numbers: 

■ When entering UPCs, make sure you include any smaller 
numerals that appear to the left or right of the main barcode 
numerals. 

• Some CDs have ISBNs; you should ignore them and only enter 
the UPC, 



f H H | , 



CD on Half.com, enter its UPC (Universal 
Code), written above the CD's barcode, to 
the product you're selling. 



button to select a picture, 2MB or 
less, stored on your hard drive. Click 
Continue to upload the picture. In 
contrast to eBay auction sales, a con- 
cise and accurate description will 
often sell an item more quickly on 
Half.com than a gallery of photos. 
One aspect of the description is 
required, though, and is very im- 
portant. You must choose from the 
Condition drop-down menu if the 
item's overall condition is Brand 
New, Like New, Very Good, Good, or 
Acceptable. This rating is the most 
important thing buyers look at when 
they're shopping, so be accurate and 
honest about the condition of your 
items. Otherwise you could end up 
with dissatisfied customers. If Half 
.com finds that you've misrepresented 
your goods, they can be returned to 
you at your expense, and you can be 
suspended from the site. 

After you've described your item, 
click Continue to advance to the next 
and final screen. Here you'll set the 
price that you'll charge for your item. 
You can set any price you wish, but if 
it's too high, you'll never find a buyer. 
Half.com shows pricing information 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 179 



for items like yours on this screen to 
help you decide what to charge, usu- 
ally giving the average sell price and 
current price range of like items in 
similar condition to yours, and the 
current price range of like items in 
any condition. Simply type in the 
price you want to charge and click 
List Item to complete the posting. 

Advanced Selling 

Occasionally, the Set Price page 
will notify you that a buyer has pre- 
ordered the item you're listing. This 
happens when a buyer agrees to buy 
an item for a given price, usually a bit 
lower than the market rate, as soon as 
it becomes available. When you list 
your item, Half.com notifies you of 
the price the buyer is willing to pay. 
You might want to set a higher price 
and try your luck in the open market, 
but if you're looking to unload an 
item quickly, you can be assured that 
it will sell immediately. Click the Sell 
Now button to take advantage of the 
instant transaction. 

Half.com also makes it convenient 
to list lots of items at the same time, 
provided they have ISBN or UPC 
codes. To list in bulk, start a listing 
as you normally would, but instead 
of choosing a category, click the 
Multiple Item Listing link at the 
bottom of the page. The Multiple 
Item Listing page has fields for you to 
enter ISBN or UPC codes, item con- 
ditions, and comments for up to 10 
items. Enter all the information for 
each item just as you would with one 
item. Once you click the Continue 
button at the bottom of the page, 
Half.com will ask you to confirm and 
set a price for each product. 

Managing Inventory 

If you've listed dozens of books 
and CDs on Half.com, you might 
have trouble remembering all the 
items you've listed. Additionally, you 
might wish to change the description 
or price of an item after you've listed 



Half.com 
Commission Fees 



Half.com's commission fees begin at 
a fairly hefty 15% but drop off as 
the sold item's value increases. 





Selling Price: 


Commission: 




<$50 


15% 




$50.01-$100 


12.5% 




$100.01-$250 


10% 




$250.01 -$500 


7.5% 




>$500 


5% 



it, perhaps to lower the cost to better 
attract a buyer. Half.com includes an 
inventory management page that lets 
you do just that. To access it, click the 
My Account link at the top of any 



Half.com page and log in using your 
username and password. Choose Sales 
Management from the menu on the 
left side of the page. Here you can 
change your account options, such as 
whether or not you offer expedited 
shipping, and even set your account 
to reflect when you're on vacation. 

To manage the items you have up 
for sale, choose the Manage Inventory 
link from the Sales Management 
menu on the left side of the page. The 
inventory summary that appears dis- 
plays how many items you have listed 
in each of the main merchandise cate- 
gories. Clicking the link for one of the 
categories will display a table of your 
available merchandise. The merchan- 
dise listing screen has two modes, Edit 
Mode and Repricing Mode. In Edit 
Mode you can change the quantities 
of items you have in stock, their 



What Does Acceptable Condition Mean, Anyway? 



i 



t's important to accurately and honestly describe the condition of the items 
you're selling. Here's what Half.com's condition ratings mean. 



Brand New: Unopened, unused, and undamaged. Just like you walked out of a retail 
store with it. CDs should still be in the shrink-wrap, and books should be unread. 

Like New: Has been unwrapped, but still has all of the original packaging and 
could be mistaken for Brand New. 

Very Good: Probably won't be mistaken for Brand New but doesn't have any ob- 
vious damage either. No creased pages, missing manuals, skipping CDs, cracks, 
scuffs, or malfunctions. Some signs of light use are OK: a single scuff on a baseball, 
initials in the front of a text book. Electronics may not have all the original 
packing but do have any necessary manuals. 

Good: Carefully used. Scuffs on book covers or missing dust jackets, some high- 
lighting in textbooks but not in other books, mildly cracked CD cases with liner 
notes, and sports equipment that's been played with. Half.com suggests that this 
is the threshold at which you wouldn't give something as a gift but would keep it 
to use yourself. Computers and electronics should be working but might not have 
all the manuals. 

Acceptable: Some damage to book covers and writing in margins but still solid 
and not missing any pages. CDs and movies can have some damage to their cases, 
and sports equipment and electronics will show signs of regular use but still be 
completely functional. Packaging and manuals probably not included. 

Unacceptable: You can't sell anything that's unacceptable on Half.com. Books 
with missing pages, skipping CDs, stained textbooks, popped basketballs, and 
other broken items can't be sold. But you can always try to unload them on eBay! 

For more information about Half.com's item quality ratings, go to 
half.ebay.com/help/popup_display.cfm?helpsection=pricing#2. 



180 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



prices, and the condition they're in, or 
delete them altogether. You can also 
suspend an item if you'd like to stop 
offering it for sale temporarily but in- 
tend to offer it again in the future. 
Repricing mode displays the current 
price range of listed items and the 




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Add an Image 

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Be sure to describe your item's condition accurately, 
can also upload a picture of it, if you wish. 



you fail to confirm an order within 48 
hours, it's automatically cancelled. 

When you ship an item, be sure to 
package it well and insure it. Paying the 
few extra pennies for insurance and 
tracking is strongly recommended be- 
cause it protects you, the seller, from 
fraudulent buyers who might 
say the package was "lost" or 
"damaged" to try to get a re- 
fund. Most items such as CDs, 
movies, books, and games have 
standard shipping costs that 
are set by Half.com and will 
be paid to you no matter what 
you actually spend at the post 
office. Consequently, if you 
know that a particularly heavy 
book will cost more to ship, it's 
wise to factor the extra cost 
into the item's price. Sellers 
usually have the freedom to set 
their own shipping prices for 
larger, heavier items, however. 



You 



After The Sale 



average and most recent prices they've 
sold at, giving you guidelines for recal- 
ibrating your prices at a glance. 

Shipping, Payment & 
Completing A Sale 

If you're offering a popular item for 
sale at a good price, you might find a 
buyer almost immediately. More com- 
monly, items stay listed on Half.com 
for a few weeks, but you don't have to 
check on their status every day. When 
someone buys a product from you, 
Half.com will send you an email pro- 
viding the buyer's address and asking 
you to confirm the order. This means 
that you have 48 hours, excluding 
weekends and holidays, to either reply 
to the message or to log into your ac- 
count to confirm the order manually, 
using the Sales menu. Once you con- 
firm, you should ship the product 
within 24 hours. If you can't confirm 
an order, cancel it instead. This will re- 
fund the buyer's money and let him 
know he needs to look elsewhere. If 



Hopefully, your sale goes smoothly, 
the buyer receives your item 
promptly, and is satisfied with 
its quality. On rare occasions, 
there may be a problem with 
the sale. Perhaps the item was 
damaged during shipping, and 
the buyer wants his money 
back, or perhaps you approved 
an order thinking you still had 
the item in stock, only to dis- 
cover that you don't. Such sce- 
narios may be complicated to 
resolve, but the site has plenty 
of advice for how to handle 
these situations at half.ebay 
.com/help/index.cfm?helpsec 
tion=sellerorderprob. 

At this point, you're prob- 
ably wondering, "When do I get paid?" 
First, Half.com charges a commission 
for listing your items once they sell, 
which starts at 15% of the item price 
for items under $50 but falls as low as 
5% for items costing more than $500. 
It's important to note that if your item 
is not a book, movie, game, or CD, 



Half.com takes a cut of your shipping 
charge, too. After the site takes its 
share, the remainder will be deposit- 
ed directly into your bank account. 
Half. corn's payment periods end twice 
every month, on the 15" 1 and last day 
of the month. Expect your cash to ar- 
rive in your account about seven busi- 
ness days after the end of each period. 

Once your buyer has received your 
package, you and the buyer should 
leave feedback for each other. Good 
feedback lets you build a reputation as 
a reliable seller, which will make your 
goods more desirable to buyers in the 
future. You can leave feedback by log- 
ging into your account and choosing 
the Leave Feedback About An eBay 
User link. If you run into trouble with a 
transaction, try to be fair when writing 
about it; you might write something 
you regret, and it's nearly impossible to 
have feedback removed. 

After you complete your first sale, 
you'll realize that selling on Half.com 
is an easy way to get rid of your old 
stuff. With just a few minutes of on- 
line listing, some price-setting savvy, 



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The Manage Inventory window allows you to edit all 
aspects of your listings on Half.com. 



and a quick trip to the post office, 
you'll be on your way to turning your 
old stuff into cold hard cash with 
which to buy new stuff, or if you re- 
ally catch the Half.com fever, to buy 
someone else's old stuff. H 

by Joseph Bell 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 181 



Other eBAY Sites 



Keep On Trucking 

eBay Motors Kicks Car Sales Into High Gear 




Imagine a car dealership that sells 
one Corvette every hour, a Mus- 
tang every 34 minutes, and an SUV 
every seven minutes. Imagine a dealer- 
ship that sells one car every second, 24 
hours a day, and you have eBay 
Motors (www.motors.ebay.com). eBay 
has always put up big numbers, but 
eBay Motors is a phenomenon within 
a phenomenon. More cars are sold be- 
fore 9 a.m. on this special section of 
eBay than the typical car dealership 
sells in an entire year. 

And that's just the cars. The eBay 
Motors site hosts auctions for a va- 
riety of other vehicles and car- related 
products, as well, with a motorcycle 
selling every four minutes and a car 
part or accessory selling every two 
seconds. It's a big site, and there's a 
lot to take in, including a number of 
helpful tools that will help you get the 
most out of the site that may not be 
obvious at a glance. 

Smart Search 

With tens of thousands of vehicles 
available at any given time, it can take 



some work to find exactly what you 
want unless you use Smart Search. 
Click the Find Cars With Smart Search 
link under the In The Headlights sec- 
tion header near the middle of the eBay 
Motors home page and use the tabs at 
the top of the resulting page to select a 
category you want to search. Next, use 
the drop-down menus to choose the 
make and model of the vehicle you are 
looking for. Then fill in all of the text 
boxes to further refine your search. 
Make good use of the Words To 
Exclude box for best results. For ex- 
ample, if you're looking for a Cor- 
vette but aren't interested in Stingray 
models, enter Stingray in the Words 
To Exclude box to keep those cars out 
of your search results. As with all 
searches, the less information you in- 
clude, the more search results you will 
reap (which isn't necessarily a good 
thing). You can also maximize the total 
number of matches by checking the 
Search Title And Description box, as by 
default the search engine only exam- 
ines the text in each auction's title. 
There's also an Advanced Parts Search 
that works in a similar fashion. 



Want It Now 

eBay's Want It Now service (pages 
.ebay.com/wantitnow) is like an auc- 
tion in reverse, and it's available for 
everything sold on the site — including 
vehicles. If the car of your dreams is 
not cropping up on the eBay motors 
site, click the Post To Want It Now 
button to create a detailed description 
of what you want. Enter succinct in- 
formation in the Title box, including 
make, model, and year, and then place 
a more detailed message in the 
Description box that contains as many 
keywords as possible. When you're 
finished, be sure to use the Category 
drop-down menu to select the eBay 
Motors Vehicles or eBay Motors Parts 
And Accessories entry and then click 
Post To Want It Now. 

Sellers can use the free service to 
find willing buyers who have posted 
to Want It Now. Use the Browse 
Want It Now drop-down menu on 
the Want It Now home page to select 
the eBay Motors category and then 
click the Browse Want It Now button. 
To select a specific subcategory such 
as Motorcycles or Powersports, click 
the appropriate link on the left side of 
the page that appears. 

Last time we checked, there were 
more than 16,500 Want It Now posts 
in the eBay Motors section. To narrow 
down the possibilities, run a search by 
entering your search terms in the text 
box near the top of the window and 
then click Search Want It Now. 

Best Offer 

Hoping to make a quick purchase 
or sale? The new Best Offer service 
(pages.ebay.com/bestoffer) may be 
your best bet. Sellers can select the 
Accept Offers From Buyers option 
when creating a listing; a buyer who 
sees a Submit Best Offer link in a 
listing can click it to enter his offer 
along with a short text message. 
Whether you've submitted an offer or 
have received one, it appears on your 
My eBay page for easy perusal, and 
when sellers accept an offer, buyers 



182 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



can click the Buy It Now button that 
appears to make the purchase. 

Reserve Prices 

Want to start the bid for your car 
low to generate interest but not take a 
bath when the vehicle accidentally 
goes for far less than expected? Set a 
reserve price. This $5 add-on service 
lets you establish a minimum price 
you will accept for an item that is in- 
visible to bidders until the bid meets 
or exceeds the reserve. 



Other eBAY Sites 



If you want to get even more out of 
eBay Motors, check out this info- 
graphic for site navigation tips and 
other information. eBay offers services 
that protect both buyers and sellers 
and can even help you finance and in- 
sure your vehicle, so it offers some of 
the help you'd get from a dealership. 
Also keep in mind that a listing at the 
site may cost more than placing a 



classified ad in your local newspaper, 
but you're paying for a much broader 
reach. About 75% of all eBay Motors 
sales are delivered to buyers living 
outside the state of the seller, so theo- 
retically you should have much better 
luck with eBay Motors than you'll get 
by selling your vehicle locally. H 

by Tracy Baker 



Search 

To perform a basic search, type what you're looking for in this box and click the 
Search button (just remember that Smart Search is a much better tool). 



Categories 



You'll find much more than just passenger vehicles and motorcycles at the 
eBay Motors site. You can peruse a category for pretty much everything 
that moves (or at one time moved), from snowmobiles and ATVs to air- 
planes and boats. Use the Categories links on the left side of the page to 
drill down into these sections of the site and always look to the left to see if 
there are more subcategories available that will help refine your search. 
Don't forget about the Parts & Accessories section. 



Financing Center 



Vehicles are expensive, but this link will take you to eBay's Financing 
Center where you can find information about a variety of lenders and even 
apply for a loan. 



Vehicle Listing Tool 



The Vehicle Listing Tool makes it a snap to put together an auction that can 
reach millions of eyeballs, with insertion fees for passenger vehicles fixed 
at $40, plus a transaction fee of $40 if the car sells. 

Related Categories 

So much stuff swaps hands on eBay that there isn't enough room for it all in 
the eBay Motors section of the site. If you're looking for a model car to give 
as a gift, a killer stereo for your new ride, or just about anything else trans- 
portation-related, these links will guide you to your destination. 

Premium Motors 



If you have big bucks to spend, why not take a look at the site's Premium 
Motors section? Prices start at $100,000 and go up — way up. 

Insurance Center 



A Quick Look At 

eBay Motors 






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by Price, Year, and Location 
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Editors' Charity Challenge 

Ten teams. Ten [. ijects e winner. Follow the 

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link toward the bottom of the page to obtain access to quotes from a variety of insurance providers. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 183 



Other eBAY Sites 



Buying On eBay 
Motors 



Find The Right Ride 



For most of us, buying a 
new or used car ranks 
right up there with 
root canals and meeting 
the in-laws in the stress 
category. Pushy sales- 
people, fast-talking man- 
agers, and confusing 12- 
page contracts can make 
you want to forget about 
a new ride and take up 
hitchhiking instead. eBay 
Motors (www. motors 
.ebay.com), the section of 
eBay dedicated to new and 
used vehicles, might change 
your mind. It could even 
change buying a car into an 
enjoyable experience. 

eBay Motors isn't strictly dedi- 
cated to cars: You can also use it to 
buy and sell boats, aircraft, trailers, 
ATVs, and even buses and commer- 
cial trucks. We'll assume here, 
though, that you're not shopping for 
a Jet Ski or a military vehicle, just a 
standard car, truck, or motorcycle. 

Get Your Motor Running 

If you are familiar with bidding and 
buying in eBay's regular auctions, you 
already know the basics for eBay 
Motors. Buying a car is more complex 
than buying Beanie Babies, so there are 
several unique aspects that eBay 
Motors buyers need to know. These in- 
clude special guarantees for buyers and 
optional services to consider. There is 
also more research to do, including 
performing a title search before you 
bid, figuring your total costs, and 




deciding how you'll get that car deliv- 
ered. Your regular eBay account works 
within eBay Motors — there's no need 
to reregister. 

Dude, Where's My Car? 

The first step is finding the kind of 
car that you want to buy, then honing 
your choices down to the specific car 
that you want to bid on. From the eBay 
Motors home page (www. motors 
.ebay.com), click the Browse button. 
You'll see a long list of car manufac- 
turers, from Acura to Willys. Willys? 
Sure. Besides the big automakers, eBay 
Motors has all manner of classic and 
obscure cars for collectors, including 
DeLorean, Citroen, and Studebaker. 
Click one and you'll see some auctions 
for cars by that maker. 



On the left edge of the browser 
window, you'll see a list of models 
from that manufacturer: Narrow the 
list by clicking one of these models. 
Now you have a concise list of auc- 
tions for the exact make and model 
that you're shopping for. You can 
focus the list even more by using the 
Search Options box to limit the dis- 
played auctions to cars within a cer- 
tain price range or located within a 
certain distance from you. 

The Sort By drop-down menu can 
be tremendously useful: Use it to 
sort cars by their model year 
(great if you're looking for a 
model from a particular 
year), show cars with the 
lowest (or highest) mileage 
first, or show the geographi- 
cally closest cars at the top 
of the list. 

Find The Right Ride 

The Browse button is 
handy when you know pre- 
cisely what make and model 
you're looking for. The Search 
button, on the other hand, can be a 
more flexible way to find the right ve- 
hicle. Click the Search button at the 
top of the eBay Motors home page, 
then the Passenger Vehicles tab. 
There you can search auctions based 
on words in the title or description, 
such as "muscle car" or "hybrid." 

You can also use keyword searches 
while limiting hits to a particular 
make and model — handy if you only 
want to know about Ford trucks with 
diesel engines. You can also use the 
Words To Exclude field to ignore 
auctions that have certain words and 
limit hits to cars within a range of 
model years. If a red 1962 Mustang 
that's under $7,000 is the only car 
you're looking for, the Search form is 
the quickest way to find it. 

Auction Information Page 

Whether you've been browsing or 
searching, when you find a car of 



184 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



interest, click its link to see its detailed 
information page. The auction de- 
scriptions for vehicle auctions have 
several features that aren't in regular 
eBay auctions. The Description box, 
located near the top of the page, shows 
the vital stats, including whether the 
car is new or used, its mileage, year, 
colors, and VIN (Vehicle Identifi- 
cation Number). Standard and in- 
stalled optional equipment are also 
listed there. Below that, you'll see typ- 
ical auction information, including a 
description of the vehicle and, hope- 
fully, lots of pictures. 

Also near the top of the page, pay 
particular attention to the Item 
Location and Shipping fields. Often, 
the latter states that the buyer is re- 
sponsible for shipping, which can be 
an added expense of time or money. 
eBay says that most vehicle sales in- 
volve buyers and sellers who are not 
located near each other. 

At the bottom of the auction page is 
a Monthly Payment Estimate box, 
which is handy if you'll be financing 
the car. It's a simple amortization cal- 
culator, prefilled with the car's current 
price. Enter your estimated annual 
percentage rate, the length of the loan, 
and the amount of down payment, 
and you'll instantly see the monthly 
payment for that car. You can click a 
link to apply for financing through an 
eBay partner (more on this below), 
but the financing calculator works no 
matter who your lender will be. 

Also look at the bottom of the auc- 
tion description page for payment re- 
quirements. See "How To Pay For 
Items On eBay" on page 72 for basic 
eBay payment information. Unlike reg- 
ular auctions, many vehicle auctions 
require a deposit, where you must pay 
a certain amount (up to $2,000) within 
two or three days of the auction's end. 
The seller may let you pay the deposit 
with PayPal (see pages. motors. ebay 
.com/services/protection.html for more 
details) or a money order. 

You may have to pay the remainder 
of the sale price with a cashier's check 
or directly through your auto finance 



company. The amount of time that 
you have to pay the full amount is up 
to the seller; a week is typical. 

eBay recommends not using wire 
transfers for making deposits or pay- 
ments, because they don't provide 
much protection in case of fraud. 

As you browse the myriad of cars 
for sale, you'll notice that sellers in- 
clude new car dealerships, used car 
lots, and individuals who are just un- 
loading their old cars. As a result, 
you'll notice a variety of selling poli- 
cies, procedures, and vehicle condi- 
tions. Take care to read auction listings 



price. Searching the completed auc- 
tions for the car you covet is an excel- 
lent place to start: While browsing or 
searching, select the Completed 
Listings checkbox to look through re- 
cently ended deals. If you can get a 
sense of the average selling price for 
the model of car that you want, in the 
condition that you want, you'll be 
able to make a more informed bid. 
You have to be a registered user and 
signed in to view completed listings. 

Also, use the Kelly Blue Book Web 
site (www.kbb.com), a free service 
that shows prices for new and used 



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1,013 Toyotas are for auction today, so use the Categories box to zoom in to the model you want. 
There are only 43 Priuses available — much more manageable. 



carefully, and ask sellers questions be- 
fore you bid. Many auctions include 
the seller's phone number. If you're 
nervous, don't hesitate to call the seller 
to learn more about the vehicle. 

Bid & Buy 

Some cars are sold in standard auc- 
tions, although sellers frequently use 
reserve prices to assure that their car 
doesn't sell for less than a specified 
amount. Other offers aren't auctions 
at all but are straight- ahead sales with 
the Buy It Now function. Still other 
sales have both options, where you 
can place an auction bid or pay more 
with Buy It Now to assure that the ve- 
hicle will be all yours. 

Before you bid or Buy It Now, you 
should know that you're paying a fair 



cars. After entering information 
about a car's model, condition, and 
features, the site will tell what you can 
expect to pay when buying from a 
dealer or a private party. 

Bidding on eBay Motors works the 
same way as any eBay auction: Type a 
number into the Your Maximum Bid 
field, click the Place Bid button, and 
hold your breath. 

If you bid more than $15,000 for a 
vehicle, the site will ask you to enter 
credit card information to confirm 
your identity. Your bid won't be ac- 
cepted until you do so. The credit 
card won't be charged. eBay says this 
step is a fraud- prevention measure. If 
you don't have or use a credit card, 
you can also verify your identity with 
ID Verify (pages.ebay.com/services 
/buyandsell/idveriry-login.html) . ID 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 185 



Other eBAY Sites 



Verify costs $5 and remains valid 
until you change your contact infor- 
mation. See "Do You Know Who I 
Am?" on page 136 for more informa- 
tion about ID Verify. 

Either way, if you're planning to 
make a last-minute bid for a vehicle 
and haven't verified your identity yet, 
give yourself plenty of extra time to 
do so. 

Unless you're a collector with lots 
of spare cash or run a taxi company, 
it's a bad idea to have bids in for more 
than one car at a time. If you end up 
winning two auctions, you'll have to 
pay for both vehicles. 

Prepurchase Services 

If you're seriously considering 
buying a used car online, it's a very 
good idea to make sure that the car 
isn't a lemon. The Vehicle History 
Report service (pages. motors. ebay 
. com/services/ vehicle_history_re 
port.html) will tell you whether a car 
is stolen, salvaged, has been in a flood, 
has been used as a rental car, or 
whether it's had other potential prob- 
lems. This service costs extra: $7.99 for 
one report or $14.99 for reports on 10 
vehicles. Every automobile auction 
listing includes the car's VIN: To get a 
vehicle report about a car, simply click 
the VIN. 

Other companies provide vehicle 
histories, too. If you'll need reports 
on more than 10 vehicles, you may be 
able to find a better deal. CARFAX 
(www.carfax.com) offers unlimited 
reports for $24.99, and Consumer 
Guide Vehicle History Reports 
(auto.cosumer 
guide.com/vhr) offers 
60 days of unlimited re- 
ports for $23.95. 

If you would like a 
more thorough investi- 
gation of a vehicle but 
aren't close enough to 
the seller to check it out 
yourself, you might want 
to invest in the Vehicle 
Inspection service (pages 



The Search function will point you to the 
vehicles that meet your exacting specifications. 

.motors.ebay.com/services/inspec 
tion/inspection.html), which is 
offered by SMS Automotive, a third- 
party company. With the service, a 
mechanic in the seller's geographic 
area will inspect the vehicle and create 
a detailed report. An inspection costs 
$99.50, but the seller may be willing to 
pay for the inspection or split the cost 
if you end up being the buyer. 

Again, you don't have to use the in- 
spection service that has partnered 
with eBay; you might be able to get it 
done more cheaply elsewhere. 
However, in this scenario, eBay's 
partner company might be the best 
choice. After all, you wouldn't want 
to hire an out-of-town mechanic to 
inspect the car when that mechanic 
could be the seller's brother. 

Buyer Protection Services 

There are other ways to prevent 
getting a bad deal when buying a car 
sight-unseen. eBay Motors offers sev- 
eral free programs that help take the 
uncertainty out of the transaction. 

Vehicle Purchase Protection (pages 
.motors.ebay.com/services 
/purchase-protection. html) protects 
buyers for up to $20,000 against 



Description (revised) 


Toyota : Sequoia SR5 2WD 40K 

01' TOYOTA SEQUOIA SR5 2WD 40K LEATHER 3RD ROW SAVE BIG 


Miles: 


40635 


Doors: 5 or more 


Transmission: Automatic 


Interior Red 


Engine: 
Warranty: 

Title: 


a-Cyl. Year 2001 

Free 1 monthn.DDO mile Service Agreement VIN Number: 5tdzt34aS1s030123 

Get the Vehicle History Report 
Clear Exterior: Gold 


Condition: 


Used 


Inspection: - 


Options 

CD Player 
Driver Airbag 
Power Windows 


Leather Seats Passenger Airbag Anti-Lock Brakes 
Air Conditioning Power Locks Power Seats 
Cruise Control 





The Description Box shows the vital stats for a car. Click the VIN (Vehicle 
Identification Number) to order a vehicle history report. 



misrepresentation, including not re- 
ceiving a vehicle that you have paid 
for, receiving a stolen vehicle, and re- 
ceiving a vehicle that has significant, 
undisclosed damage. This coverage is 
free and available for most passenger 
vehicle auctions on eBay Motors: If 
it's covered, you'll see a shield icon in 
the Seller Information box on the 
auction information page. 

Another program, called Condition 
Guarantee by Seller (pages. motors 
.ebay.com/services/conditionguara 
ntee.html), guarantees that the vehicle 
is in the condition that's described. 
This isn't available for all vehicles; 
only vehicles sold by licensed dealers 
and verified by Square Trade (www 
.squaretrade.com) are protected by the 
Condition Guarantee. A related pro- 
gram, Money Back Guarantee by 
Seller, provides the same protections 
plus a 24-hour money-back return 
policy. If a car is protected by either 
guarantee, you'll see a checkmark logo 
in the auction listing. 

The Short Term Service Agreement 
(pages.motors.ebay.com/services/war 
ranty.html) is yet another free pro- 
gram for buyers. It protects you 
against repairs for the first 30 days or 
1,000 miles after you receive the ve- 
hicle. The Short Term Service Agree- 
ment isn't available on every vehicle; 
some makes and models are exempt 
from the program, and all cars must 
have less than 125,000 miles. 

If a car does qualify, you'll see 
"Free 1 month/1000 mile Service 
Agreement" in the vehicle's descrip- 
tion. Short-term service is free but 
isn't automatic: Buyers in most 
states will need to reg- 
ister for the service 
agreement during the 
checkout process, with- 
in seven days of the end 
of the auction, to re- 
ceive coverage. 

If you would like to 
expand that 1,000-mile 
warranty into a longer 
one, eBay's partner, Aon 
Warranty Group, also 



186 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



provides extended warranties (pages 
.motors.ebay.com/services/extended- 
warranty.html). An extended war- 
ranty includes emergency roadside 
assistance and reimbursement for 
parts and labor for covered repairs. 

If, despite eBay's guarantees, 
you're squeamish about sending 
thousands of dollars to a complete 
stranger, you may want to use an 
escrow service (pages.ebay.com 
/help/community/escrow.html) . The 
only escrow service endorsed by 
eBay is Escrow.com. See "The 
Escrow Advantage" on page 11 in 
this issue for more information 
about this service. 

An escrow service protects both 
buyer and seller against fraud: You 
send payment to the service, then the 
seller ships the vehicle to you. After 
you've received and inspected the ve- 
hicle, you give the escrow service the 
thumbs-up, and it pays the seller. If 
the car isn't what you expected, you 
can return it and get your money 
back, or request a partial refund. 
There's an extra fee for escrow (from 
1.5% to 1.75% of the cost of most ve- 
hicles), but the added peace of mind 
can be well worth it. The seller may 
be willing to split the cost. 

Other Services 

eBay does more than broker the 
transaction. It also offers a variety of 
related services. 

The Financing Center (financing- 
center.ebay.com) can help you get a 
loan to purchase that new vehicle. 
After you fill out a short form that in- 
cludes the amount you want to fi- 
nance, your state of residence, and the 
type of vehicle you're buying, eBay for- 
wards you to the Web site of a partner 
company where you can fill out a more 
detailed application. Financing for 
boats and RVs is also available at 
pages.motors.ebay.com/services/boat- 
finance.html. 

You can certainly check out the 
rates and information offered by 
eBay's financing partner, but you 



Monthly payment estimate 



Total Price US $ 5,101 
Estimated APR % 4.69 ' 

Number of months f 48 %\ 

•ayment US $ 510 



Estimated mon . : US $ 105. OS 00 

Calculate 



The Monthly Payment Estimator is 
a handy calculator at the bottom 
of every vehicle auction page. 



Seller information 

savabuk (63 -^ ) mO 



Feedback Score: 68 

Positive Feedback: 98.6% 

Member since United States 



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Programs and terms 



The Vehicle Purchase Protection 
shield, when shown in the Seller 
Information box, guarantees 
against undisclosed damage and 
other major problems. 



aren't obligated to use that com- 
pany, and you may be able to get 
better financing terms elsewhere. 
The Auto Loans section at www 
.bankrate.com can help you compare 
vehicle loan rates at a variety of 
financial institutions. 

Road Trip 

Buying a vehicle is normally easy. 
But getting it home can be the tricky 
part. After all, your dream car might 
be across the country. eBay's auto 
shipping partner can pick up your 
new car and deliver it to your dri- 
veway. You can get an instant online 
quote for the move at pages. motors 
.ebay.com/services/das-shipping.html. 
Quotes are guaranteed for 15 days. 

Because delivery can add hundreds 
or thousands of dollars to bottom 
line, find out the cost of delivery 
(with this or another delivery ser- 



vice) before you place a bid. For in- 
stance, delivery from Phoenix, Ariz., 
to northern California costs from 
$650 (for delivery to and from 
freight terminals) to $1,200 (for 
door-to-door delivery). 

If you're buying from a car dealer, 
the seller may be able to have it de- 
livered to you, or at least to some- 
where nearby, perhaps for slightly 
less money than eBay's partner ser- 
vice. It's worth asking about before 
you bid. 

Get Your Motor Runnin' 

As you shop on eBay Motors, re- 
member that there will be expenses 
beyond the price you're bidding for 
the car. 

The seller pays the eBay fees, but 
the cost of transporting the vehicle to 
you, the DMV title and registration 
fees, and state taxes add to the total 
cost of the car. If you're buying from 
an out-of-state dealer, it won't charge 
sales tax, but you are still responsible 
for paying the tax in your state. 

Refer to your state's DMV for in- 
formation about costs and procedures 
involved in buying a car. eBay pro- 
vides a list of state DMV Web sites at 
pages.motors.ebay.com/help/basics 
/dmv.html. 

Even considering these other costs, 
you can still get a great deal on a ve- 
hicle. The site lets you shop for cars 
located far and wide, providing a far 
better selection than any new car 
dealer or used car lot could ever hope 
to match. 

The process of bidding on, win- 
ning, and receiving a car takes longer 
than just running down to Big Al's 
Auto Land. So if you're not in a 
hurry to get a car, eBay Motors can 
provide a pleasant shopping experi- 
ence that's wonderfully free of fast- 
talking salespeople. Qjs] 

by Kevin Savetz 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 187 



Other eBAY Sites 



From Highway 
To Information 
Superhighway 

Sell On eBay Motors 




Although most eBay listings are 
for relatively inexpensive 
items, a growing number of 
people are turning to the site to sell 
their used cars; and specialty- site eBay 
Motors helps you do just that. At first, 
the idea of selling something as ex- 
pensive as a car in an online market- 
place can seem alarming. After all, it 
can be difficult to determine people's 
real identities online, and keep finan- 
cial transactions above board. How- 
ever, selling a car online is no 
different in principle than listing it in 
the classified section of your local 
paper. In fact, it may even be safer. 
It's certainly become common; eBay 
claims that a car or truck is sold on its 
site every 60 seconds. We'll walk you 
through eBay Motors' selling features 
and show you how to find a buyer for 
your car. 



Information Gathering 

The first step toward selling a car is 
to gather information about that car. 
eBay Motors accepts listings for cars, 
trucks, vans, motorcycles, school 
buses, scooters, snowmobiles, go- 
karts, campers, recreational vehicles, 
trailers, airplanes, and just about 
every other kind of motorized ve- 
hicle. We even found a few listings 
for old army tanks. There's also a cat- 
egory for accessories, such as helmets, 
parts, and tools. Whatever you're 
selling, the more complete and accu- 
rate your description is the better 
chance you'll have of selling it. Start 
by taking pictures. Because your cus- 
tomers will probably be buying your 
vehicle without ever seeing it in 
person, photos are crucial, and more 
is always better. eBay recommends 



that you provide up to 12 photos: one 
showing each side of the car, then 
close-ups of the wheels and interior. 
While you're at it, get shots of the 
odometer and the VIN (vehicle iden- 
tification number). The VIN is a code 
used to identify cars and trucks made 
after 1969. Since 1981, the codes have 
been 17 characters long and should 
be written on the driver's side of the 
dashboard, visible through the wind- 
shield, and in other places too, such 
as the inside of the driver's-side 
doorjamb. 

There's nothing wrong with trying 
to make your car look good, but be 
sure that any signs of wear or damage 
are easily visible. eBay's managers 
claim that sellers who highlight 
damage with good, clear, close-up 
photos actually get better prices for 
their cars than those who don't. 
Honesty builds confidence; buyers are 
willing to pay more when they know 
about any scratches and dents than 
when they have to wonder how bad 
they could be. Of course, if your car 
really is perfect, then say so. Just be 
sure to provide photos to back up 
your claim. 

Taking pictures will probably jog 
your memory, so take this opportu- 
nity to write a vehicle description. 
You'll obviously want to include the 
make, model, and year of the vehicle, 
but try also to anticipate the ques- 
tions that shoppers will have. Include 
information about the engine type, 
transmission, and the vehicle's op- 
tions, such as a sunroof, traction con- 
trol, or power windows. Describe its 
comfort features, such as seat 
warmers or the stereo system. Also, 
don't forget to mention any modifi- 
cations you've made to the car; CD 
changers, cell phone adapters, and 
car alarms can all pique people's in- 
terest. Even new tires are worth men- 
tioning. You may want to download a 
Sell Your Car Checklist from eBay at 
sell.ebay.com/ebaymotors/sell to help 
you organize all this information. 

Also include a history of the ve- 
hicle. Are you the original owner? Has 



188 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Other eBAY Sites 



The Cost Of Selling On eBay Motors 



If you sell a car on eBay Motors, you won't be able to pocket all the money you 
get. You'll have to pay a variety of fees to list your car. As you can see, the fees 
vary considerably. 



Fee Category: 


Amount: 


Insertion Fee (Passenger vehicles) 


$40 


Insertion Fee (Motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, etc.) 


$30 


Transaction Services Fee (Passenger vehicles) 


$40 


Transaction Services Fee (Motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, etc.) 


$30 


Reserve Price 


$5 


Featured Plus! Listing Upgrade 


$19.95 


10-Day Listing $5 Scheduled Listings to start later 


$1 


Buy It Now Price 


$1 


Picture hosting (first free, additional pictures) 


15 cents 


Supersize Pictures 


75 cents 


Picture Show 


$1 


Picture Pack (12 Supersize pictures) 


$2 


CARad software listing tool, up to 35 pictures 


$9.95 





the car ever been in an accident? In a 
flood? Did you only drive it on Sun- 
days to church? Are you a smoker? 
Any recent service or inspections? Is 
there a warranty? Make sure to de- 
scribe any damage, whether it's visible 
in the pictures or not. Faded or 
chipped paint, dents, unusual engine 
noises, and even funny smells should 
be documented. Also note the car's 
odometer reading and the VIN. The 
VIN will let potential buyers run their 
own checks on the car's history. If 
you're not the original owner, you 
should consider running a vehicle his- 
tory report yourself. That way, bid- 
ders won't be surprised by what they 
discover, and neither will you. eBay 
offers the service for $7.99 on its site 
at pages.motors.ebay.com/services/ve 
hicle_history_report.html. 

Finally, make sure you have access 
to the vehicle's title, and disclose any 
liens on the car in your description. If 
there is a lien, it could take extra time 
for you to transfer the title to your 
buyer, possibly delaying the sale. 

A good description of your vehicle 
won't just help to attract bidders. It 
will also ensure that your sale goes 
smoothly, and ends with a satisfied 



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eBay Motors lets you select your vehicle type 
by navigating through a series of menus. 



buyer. Additionally, although dis- 
putes are unusual, your careful de- 
scription will protect you against 
any claims of misrepresentation 
from a balking buyer. When in 
doubt, err on the side of being too 
candid. Spend some time browsing 
other listings so you can get a feel 
for how to write them. If you want 
more help, eBay provides tips for 
writing descriptions at pages. mo 
tors.ebay.com/help/sellerguide/tips 
/description. html. 



Set Up Your Account 

You'll need an eBay seller's account 
to list your car on eBay Motors. If 
you're new to eBay altogether, first set 
up a new standard account. To do 
this, go to www.ebay.com/motors and 
click the Sign In button at the top of 
the page. Click the Register button, 
and then enter your name and con- 
tact information, and choose a user 
ID and password. To activate your ac- 
count, follow the instructions in the 
confirmation email eBay sends you. 

If you've just created your ac- 
count, or have never sold on eBay 
before, you'll need to upgrade your 
registration to become a seller. Go to 
sell.ebay.com/ebaymotors/sell and 
click the Sell Your Item button. Sign 
in with your user ID. eBay will then 
walk you through the process of be- 
coming a seller. You'll need to pro- 
vide a credit card (or debit card) 
number, and a checking account 
number, along with your bank's 
routing code. This information lets 
eBay charge you its seller's fees, and 
helps eBay hold sellers accountable 
for their listings. 

Listing a passenger vehicle on eBay 
Motors, such as a car, truck, or van, 
costs $40. You're charged this In- 
sertion Fee when you make your 
listing. Once someone places a bid 
high enough to win your item, eBay 
Motors charges an additional $40 
Transaction Services Fee, bringing the 
total cost to $80. Depending on what 
you're selling, the fees may be slightly 
different. For example, the fee is $30 
for a motorcycle. There also may be a 
few extra charges if you choose to up- 
grade your listing by adding extra pic- 
tures and other auction features. 

List Your Car 

Once you've established a seller's 
account, visit sell.ebay.com/ebaymo 
tors/sell and click the Sell Your Item 
button. If you're not already signed 
in, type in your user ID and pass- 
word. First, choose a selling format. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 189 



Other eBAY Sites 



eBay recommends using the auction 
format for selling vehicles, but you do 
have the option of forgoing bidding 
and simply naming a Buy It Now 
price for a vehicle. 

Now you'll tell eBay what kind of 
vehicle you're selling. If it's a car, 
choose the Passenger Vehicles cate- 
gory to display a list of manufac- 
turers. Click a manufacturer and the 
page will display a list of models from 
that manufacturer. Once you've 
chosen the correct model in this sub- 
category, click Continue. Now you'll 
enter the VIN. For cars made since 
1992, eBay requires the VIN. It may 
also be required for older cars, 
depending on the year and 
model. eBay Motors can deduce 
lots of information about your 
vehicle from the VIN, filling out 
many details about your car for 
you. The page will list this infor- 
mation and ask you to confirm it. 

The next step is posting your 
description. If you've already 
taken pictures, completed a ve- 
hicle history report, and de- 
scribed its condition, this part 
should be easy. You'll need to 
come up with an exciting, de- 
scriptive title to help attract shop- 
pers to your listing, and input the 
information about your car's mileage, 
colors, and features. Then, type your 
personal description of the vehicle. 

Once you've provided information 
about what you're selling, decide how 
you're selling it, and what terms 
you'll require. It's up to you to deter- 
mine what forms of payment to ac- 
cept and how long you'll give the 
winning bidder to pay. Many sellers 
require a nonrefundable deposit, 
usually 10% of the sale price, within 
48 hours. The easiest way to do this is 
through eBay's online payment ser- 
vice PayPal, which lets you send or 
receive money. Keep in mind that if 
you require a deposit of more than 
$2,000, your buyer will have to be a 
verified PayPal user, which usually 
takes a few business days. After the 
deposit is in, there's usually no harm 



in waiting a week or so for payment 
to arrive. If you choose to accept a 
personal check, be sure to deposit it 
at your bank, and wait for it to clear, 
before you deliver the vehicle and 
sign over the title. You don't want a 
bounced check to ruin your sale. 
Perhaps the best way to ensure that 
the transaction will go smoothly is to 
use Escrow.com, the only online es- 
crow service endorsed by eBay (for 
more about Escrow.com, see "The 
Escrow Advantage" on page 77). 

Shipping something as large as a 
car across the country can be a 
daunting proposition; so you should 









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You can search through completed listings to get a sense 
of what prices cars will sell for. 



state clearly what you're willing to do 
to deliver the car. Most sellers re- 
quire buyers to arrange shipping or 
pickup of the vehicle themselves. 
However, you may help your cause if 
you're willing to drop the car off 
within a certain radius, perhaps 150 
miles from your house. This encour- 
ages local bidders to bid on your car, 
and will help distant buyers if the car 
can be dropped off at a shipping ser- 
vice terminal. 

Most auctions run for seven days 
so they will catch the eyes of weekend 
shoppers, but you can choose to have 
yours run for as little as three days or 
as many as 10. You'll also set several 
prices for your auction; the first is the 
opening price. A low opening price 
will attract bidders. If you're worried 
about the item selling for too little, 
you can set a reserve price, which is a 



kind of safety net for your auction. If 
the bidding doesn't rise above the re- 
serve, the item isn't sold. eBay keeps 
the reserve price you set a secret, so 
bidders don't know what it is. Setting 
a reserve for an eBay Motors auction 
costs $5, but the fee is refunded if the 
item sells. You can also add a Buy It 
Now price for a $1 fee. Enthusiastic 
bidders who can't wait for the auction 
to end, or think the item will sell for 
more than the Buy It Now price, can 
choose to pay the Buy It Now price to 
end the auction early. 

Determining prices for used cars 
can be difficult. A good first step is to 
find the car's approximate market 
value at a site such as Kelley Blue 
Book at www.kbb.com. You can 
also look at the prices of cars sim- 
ilar to yours that are already listed 
on eBay Motors. eBay Motors lets 
you search through completed 
listings, displaying what prices 
cars sold for. To search auctions 
that have already finished, check 
the Completed Listings box in the 
Search Options panel on the left 
side of the search page. Set your 
opening price low to attract bid- 
ders, and if you're worried about 
letting your car go for too little, 
set your reserve and Buy It Now 
prices higher than you think you 
should. eBay Motors lets you lower 
them after the auction begins if your 
bidding response isn't what you 
thought it would be. 

The page will also prompt you to 
upload your pictures of the vehicle. 
The first picture is free, and you can 
add additional shots for 15 cents each, 
up to 12. The Picture Pack is a popular 
option that includes 12 pictures orga- 
nized in an embedded slideshow, plus 
the ability for users to view them at 
Supersize high resolution, for $2. If you 
want to include more than 12 photos, 
you'll need to use the CARad listing 
tool, which is advertised on the main 
page. For $9.95, you can post up to 35 
photos. You can also purchase addi- 
tional listing upgrades, such as featured 
placement at various eBay Motors site 



190 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



locations, to help your listing stand out 
and attract more bidders. (For more 
information about optional features 
and fees, see pages.ebay.com/help/sell 
/motorfees.html. ) 

As a bonus, eBay Motors provides a 
free short-term warranty through the 
Aon Warranty Group. If your car is 
less than nine years old, has fewer 
than 125,000 miles, and doesn't have 
any nonfactory installed modifica- 
tions, then it may be eligible for 30- 
day, 1,000-mile coverage of its power 
train components. If your listing 
qualifies, eBay Motors will automati- 
cally display a page asking you to acti- 
vate the coverage, and will describe 
the warranty on your listing page, 
which is a bonus for potential buyers. 

Before you confirm your listing, 
carefully review the information you've 
provided. Even though it may seem like 
just an online classified ad, once you 
start your auction you're obligated to 
sell the car to the highest bidder who 
breaks your reserve price, and to follow 
through on the terms you set for the 
deal. Also, prospective bidders may 
contact you with questions, so make 
sure your contact information is accu- 
rate. If you're ready to follow through 
with the auction, click the Submit 
button to let the bidding begin. 

Manage Your Auction 

After you've started your auction, 
you need to manage your listing to 
help it get the best price it can. To ac- 
cess the selling management features of 
your My eBay page, click the My eBay 
link at the top of any eBay page, and 
then scroll down to the Items I'm 
Selling panel. Here you can view the 
high bid, the current number of bids, 
and the amount of time left in the auc- 
tion. After a few days, if you haven't at- 
tracted any bidders, consider lowering 
the opening bid and Buy It Now prices. 
Give the description a good hard look: 
Is there anything you've forgotten to 
add that might make the car more at- 
tractive? You can add to the description 
even if bids have already been placed. 




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This auction has five bidders who have bid up to 
$4,001.51, but none have bid above the reserve 
price. They still have the option of ending the 
auction early, by using Buy It Now for $6,500. 



Once you do have a few bids, be 
proactive and use eBay's Contact 
Bidder feature to drop them a line. Ask 
them if they have any questions or 
concerns about the vehicle. You 
should also review the bidders' Feed- 
back Profile, a rating determined by 
the satisfaction of others that they've 
done business with on the site, to de- 
termine if they're trustworthy. If you 
have concerns, get them out in the 
open early. A timely response and a 
professional demeanor can tip the bal- 
ance for a customer considering a bid. 

A bidder may want the car checked 
out by an independent mechanic. This 
is a reasonable request, so you may 
want to get an inspection in advance so 
you can include the report in your 
listing. eBay recommends SGS Auto- 
motive, a company that will inspect 
your car and post the results on a Web 
page you can link to from your auction 
page. The service costs $99.50 for most 
vehicles; you can find more informa- 
tion at pages.motors.ebay.com/services 
/inspection/inspection.html. 

Seal The Deal 

Once your auction ends, contact 
the winning bidder to confirm the de- 
tails of the sale. If you spelled out the 
terms clearly in your listing, every- 
thing should go smoothly. Make sure 
that you've been paid completely 



before you hand over the car or send 
off the title. Once the buyer has re- 
ceived the vehicle and both parties are 
satisfied, you should leave feedback 
for the buyer by clicking on the link 
in your My eBay page. Leaving feed- 
back promotes honest transactions 
between buyers and sellers, and is a 
good way to say "Thank You" for a 
smooth transaction. 

If your item doesn't sell, try to 
figure out why. If you had good bids 
that were just shy of the reserve price, 
you can make a Second Chance Offer 
to bidders after the close of the auc- 
tion, giving them another opportunity 
to buy. If you didn't have any good 
bids at all, perhaps there was some- 
thing wrong with your listing. Was 
there something unattractive about 
the pictures, description, or price of 
the car? eBay lets you relist the item 
immediately, without having to input 
all the details about your car again. 
You'll be charged a second insertion 
fee, but it will be refunded if your item 
sells the second time around. 

Dealers, Classifieds, Or eBay Motors? 

Selling a car online can be scary. 
However, when you compare it with 
taking out a classified ad, it makes good 
sense. First, you provide buyers with 
much more information about the car. 
Second, you don't have to worry about 
haggling over a price. 

Many people unwilling to accept the 
difficulty of selling a car on their own 
turn to a dealer to do it for them. But 
with eBay Motors, you get a national 
customer base, short-term warranty 
coverage, and even buyer financing. 
The real key to being successful on 
eBay Motors is to use the resources 
eBay provides to make yourself com- 
petitive with dealers. Put up lots of pic- 
tures, give a good, accurate description 
of the vehicle, set a fair reserve price, 
and keep in contact with your bidders. 
Do these things and you'll be well on 
your way to making a sale. H 

by Joseph Bell 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 191 



More Tools & Features 



Checking 
The Pulse 

Probe eBay Trends From Many Angles 





The eBay Pulse is a customiz- 
able window into a huge 
auction tent. It reveals the 
current trends among all of 
eBay's many items, stores, 
and visitors. To get there, click the 
Buy link beside the eBay logo at the 
top of eBay's home page (www 
.ebay.com), then scroll down and 
click the eBay Pulse link under Other 
Ways To Browse. 

At the head of the Pulse page is a 
drop-down Category menu. This is 
the control that makes the Pulse 
pump what you're interested in, as all 
the sections below it respond when 
you change categories. It starts out set 
to All Categories, and clicking it yields 
a long list of item classifications. 

The Category control is notable for 
another reason: It's not your ordinary, 
static list of choices. All Categories is 
at the top of the list where the current 
category is shown, divided from the 
choices below it by a dashed line. If 
you choose the eBay Motors category, 
then eBay Motors joins All Categories 
at the top of the list, and the choices 
below the dashed line become fewer: 
Motorcycles, Other Vehicles, Pas- 
senger Vehicles, Power Sports, and 
Parts & Accessories. You can further 



refine the focus by choosing one 
of those categories, or you can go 
back up a level from eBay Motors 
to All Categories by clicking the 
latter, above the dashed line. 
Thus, what might look like a 
broad brush turns out not to be. 
If you belong to any kind of club, 
this would be a great networking 
tool, as you're able to see who 
bids on certain items and learn what 
else they're looking for, what they 
themselves might have for sale, or 
what they have to say in correspon- 
dence about your common interest. 

Cover All The Angles 

The sections below the Category 
control display up to 10 links each to 
popular eBay search results, item list- 
ings, and sellers' member profiles. The 
trend information they show is timely 
because it's generated on-the-spot 
when you first visit the Pulse page and 
each time you change categories. 

Popular searches tracked. The 
Popular Searches section lists not the 
items most searched for, but the 
search terms entered most often by 
eBay visitors. When you click one of 
the words listed here, you get a page 
of auction listings as though you'd 
performed the search yourself. 

Who's got the most? The Largest 
Stores section ranks eBay stores by the 
number of items they currently have 
for sale. On eBay, "stores" are lists of 
items offered by a single seller. Some 
store items do not show up in regular 
auction searches because they are of- 
fered at fixed prices. 








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The Category list focuses your view of trends. 

Who's watching what? The Most 
Watched Items section ranks indi- 
vidual items by the number of eBay 
users monitoring their progress on 
the auction block. A clickable Watch 
This Item link near the top of each 
item's Web page adds that item to an 
eBay user's personal Watch List of up 
to 100 items. 

Other info available. In the middle 
of the eBay Pulse page, tucked be- 
tween the Largest Stores and Most 
Watched Items sections, is a sidebar 
entitled "Did You Know?" containing 
links to items and to other eBay 
pages. Here eBay calls attention to 
current events and other notable go- 
ings-on inside and outside eBay. 

Beats For Different Drummers 

Whether you're gathering business 
stats or just curious, the eBay Pulse is 
a bookmarkable source of inter- 
esting, sometimes surprising, and 
potentially profitable insight into 
this great online marketplace. Qjs] 

by Ray Collier 



192 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



Hmsn 



Back To School 

eBay University Offers Classes For Those 
Who Want To Learn More 




Sharpen the ol f No. 2 pencil and 
shine up a juicy Red Delicious 
for your favorite teacher. eBay is 
offering you a chance to knock loose 
the cobwebs in your mind and 
head back to school. eBay University 
(www.ebay.com/university) offers 
novice and professional users the op- 
portunity to further their knowledge 
of the buying-and-selling Web site 
that has taken the world by storm. 

Class Schedule 

eBay offers five courses that cater to 
the needs of everyone from first- time 
buyers to seasoned eBay entrepre- 
neurs. These classes deal with the fol- 
lowing topics: getting started, the 
basics of selling, enhanced listings, 
detailed listings, and completing 
the sale. 

The courses are available both on- 
line and in a classroom setting. If you 
want an online tutorial for the class 
that best addresses your needs, you 
can take one for $19.95. There are 
some advantages to taking classes on- 
line: You can take the class at your 
leisure, submit questions that will be 
addressed by the instructor in a chat 
session, access transcripts from those 



sessions available at any time, and re- 
ceive a certificate of completion when 
you're finished. 

Some people prefer to work face-to- 
face with an instructor. This is a viable 
option for users who live in or near 
bigger cities, as that is where most of 
the instructors teach. You can register 
online or over the phone. Taking 
courses in person gives you a great op- 
portunity to learn from the experts in 
an old-fashioned classroom setting 
and is a great way to network with 



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eBay offers five programs to help users 
advance their knowledge of online auctioning. 

other eBay users. However, there are 
some disadvantages. First, the price of 
one class, which runs about six hours, 
is around $59. Also, class sizes are lim- 
ited. If you register to attend a class, 
you have the hassle of building your 
schedule around the session you wish 
to attend. You also don't have the op- 
tion of learning at your own speed or 
reviewing transcripts. 

The Student Becomes The Teacher 

So, you're a graduate of eBay 
University. What are you going to do 
with your education? If you had a 



great experience learning online or in 
person and want to share that with 
others face-to-face, you can become 
an instructor, if you meet certain cri- 
teria: You must teach in the United 
States and you must teach the courses 
that are most in need of educators. 
There is an initial registration fee of 
$149 and an annual renewal fee of 
$49. For these fees, you get access to 
the online course, instructor manual, 
student materials, and the Education 
Specialist Directory, which allows you 
to list class information for courses 
that you'll be teaching. Your tenure 
can span years if you'd like, so long as 
you stay current with your renewal 
fees and your students give you at 
least a 75% positive feedback rating. 

Still not sure if being an instructor 
is right for you? Kathy Lewis, an eBay 
user and instructor, explains what 
makes an effective eBay instructor: 
"People who do a lot of business on 
eBay will have great experiences to 
share, but an instructor must also be a 
good teacher, presenter, communi- 
cator, facilitator, and most of all a 
good listener." 





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You can register to attend an online course of 
your liking. It all starts by picking a city and 
date that work for you. 

If you want to share your knowl- 
edge with other people, or if you are 
floundering around looking for new, 
innovative ways to get the best deal, 
check out the opportunities eBay 
University offers and don't be afraid 
to head back to school. Qjs] 

By Sam Evans 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 193 



More Tools & Features 



Warranty 
Services 

Know Costs, Risks & Protections 
Before You Bid 



Throngs are clamoring 
for online bargains, and 
eBay hosts what is prob- 
ably the leading auction Web 
site. Whether you're a seasoned 
hand or a rank novice at Internet 
buying and selling, it's best to know 
the rules of engagement. 

You may wonder what you can do if 
you end up with a turkey, especially 
once you have read the draconian- 
sounding disclaimers in eBay's user 
agreement, (pages.ebay.com/help/poli- 
cies/user-agreement.html). eBay de- 
clines to warrant quality, safety or 
legality of items, truth of listings, or the 
ability of sellers and buyers to follow 
through in transactions. We'll share 
warranty highlights you may find useful. 

Warranty Basics 

What can you do if you pay for an 
item but never receive it? What if your 
purchase doesn't perform as expected 
or is significantly different than pro- 
mised? Warranty options exist, but 
note the coverage, costs, and eligibility 
requirements before you choose. 

eBay's basic warranty reimburses 
buyers for nonshipment or significant 
misrepresentation up to $175 on a 
$500 purchase; but you must first file 
a Fraud Alert, provide proof of pay- 
ment, and seek reimbursement from 
your credit card company. 

There is no coverage for transac- 
tions paid in cash or by wire; for mer- 
chandise altered, repaired, discarded, 
or resold; or for items not signifi- 
cantly different from the listing. 




There is no cost for eBay's basic war- 
ranty, but the $175 refund cap is a 
serious limitation. 

Optional Warranties & Coverage 

Third party provider NEW (N.E.W. 
Customer Service Companies; smart 
.newcorp.com/ebay/jsp/EBAY- 
AboutNEW.jsp) offers two eBay war- 
ranty packages for an additional 
charge. NEW's Standard Service Plan 
adds a one-year warranty, and its 
Extended Service Plan adds a year's 
coverage. NEW's coverage applies to 
electronics, computers, and watches 
and jewelry. 

Be sure you understand NEW's 
coverage terms before opting for a 
plan. NEW's service plans don't ad- 
dress seller fraud or nonperformance. 
If you're a jilted buyer, a refund of 
warranty charges is the most you 
stand to get back, not a full return of 
an item's purchase price. Thus, NEW's 
warranty coverage falls far short of 
restoring the buyer's original outlay 
for potentially pricey items. 



These service plans cover repairs or 
replacement, but may involve nu- 
merous trips or shipping charges to 
an approved facility. 

Item price range determines war- 
ranty costs, which can vary widely. 
Coverage is proportionally most costly 
for low-priced items, about 30% of the 
purchase price for watches and jewelry 
under $50. The highest item price cov- 
ered, $4,000, will cost you $299.99, or 
7.5% of the purchase price. This is the 
maximum return available. 

Eligible items include computers, 
peripherals, PDAs (personal dig- 
ital assistants), digital cameras, 
home theater systems, audio 
equipment, copiers, fax ma- 
chines, and jewelry. 

Prevention Better Than Cure 

An eBay spokesman notes 
that PayPal is eBay's most popular ap- 
proach to buyer protection. PayPal 
covers up to $1,000 per transaction. 
There are significant eligibility re- 
quirements, reviewed in PayPal's 
buyer protection rules. (Note that fees 
average about 2.9% of the transaction 
cost for PayPal's protection.) 

High-Dollar Coverage 

eBay uses Escrow.com to cover 
high-dollar transactions. Escrow.com 
accepts and holds payment from 
buyers, tracks shipment, and then for- 
wards payment to the seller when 
the buyer acknowledges receipt 
of the goods. A fee of 0.89% ap- 
plies for transactions greater than 
$25,000. Merchandise price plus 
shipping costs form the cost basis. 
eBay warns against using other 
escrow services, citing fraud and 
deceptive practices. 

If all else fails, see Square Trade 
on the eBay site. (Enter Square 
Trade in eBay's Help search engine.) 
It's a four-step process designed to 
foster dispute resolution, [rs] 

By Michael Border 



194 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



Equipment 
Financing 

Evaluate Online Finance Terms Carefully 




The online buying-and-selling 
folks who captured consumers' 
hearts and pocketbooks are com- 
ing to a small business near you. 

eBaybusiness.com serves buyers 
in institutional categories. Their equip- 
ment listings are growing, and eBay is 
adding dedicated listings for the likes 
of 'dozers, excavators, and trailers to 
reduce shoppers' search time. 

These are big-ticket items, though, 
and cash flow may be a problem for 
some. For those situations, eBay is pre- 
pared to help you stretch your bud- 
get by financing your purchase via 
Direct Capital, a lender located in 
Portsmouth, NH (www.directcapital 
.com/program/terms. htm). Keep in 
mind, though, that approved financing 
options can be complex, they may in- 
volve more than one eBay partner, and 
that loan costs can add up. 

Financing Options 

The company touts its financing 
options, citing buyer security, bargain 
prices, and low monthly payments. 
Sellers can expect increased bidding, 



quicker sales, and lower costs through 
eBay financing, the company says. 

Direct Capital financing is available 
for items priced over $2,000, and by 
choosing it, sellers can avoid the Final 
Value fees normally assessed by 
eBay, as long as payment is handled 
through PayPal. In that situation, you 
can expect to save about $540 on a 
$35,000 sale, according to examples 
provided by eBay. 

Contrary to eBay's normal practice 
of offering many links to cross-refer- 
ence nearly every topic on its Web 
sites, information on these financing 
costs is elusive. It's easy to find buyer 



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payment instructions or contact 
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If the $15,000 starting bid for this gas-fired 
boiler would deplete your business account, 
consider eBay's equipment-financing options. 

applications and seller enrollment 
forms, but difficult to find informa- 
tion about Direct Capital's fees, 
which makes comparison shopping 
difficult. And keep in mind that cap- 
ital expenditures can last a long time, 
possibly beyond the lifespan of the 
equipment being purchased. 

An email request to the eBay link of- 
fering more information yielded a reply 
directing questions to Direct Capital's 



email address. A request to Direct 
Capital bounced back, citing a delivery 
delay. A third email didn't bounce back 
but was never responded to. 

PayPal Required 

You must use PayPal to pay for 
eBay-financed sales. PayPal offers 
three account levels: The Personal ac- 
count lets you send payments to 
anyone with an email address. The 
Premier account lets you receive 
credit card payments. The top-level 
Business account permits credit card 
transactions to be conducted in a 
business name. PayPal's seller fees 
range from 1.9% to 2.9%, plus 30 
cents per transaction. 

The eBay Credit Card 

Another financing option, eBay 
Anything Points, is part credit card, 
part loyalty reward system. For using 
the card, buyers earn credit points 
equal to 1 cent. Accrued credits can 
pay for eligible eBay items, again con- 
tingent on using PayPal. 

Be sure to read about fees associ- 
ated with this option. It's really a 
credit card from one of two banks. Go 
to eBay Services (click the link at the 
top of the home page) and click eBay 
Anything Points, Apply Now, and 
Rate And Fee Information. One bank 
charges 8.99% for purchases or 
19.99% for cash advances. The other 
may charge "Up to the Prime Rate 
plus 24.99%, or up to 29.99%. . . ." 

See "The eBay Anything Points 
Program" on page 201 for more info. 

Compare Costs Before Signing Up 

You may be able to find small busi- 
ness bargains online, but be sure to re- 
search your financing options carefully. 
Cost comparison is critical. Check out 
local lenders' rates and remember to 
include any shipping or other such 
costs in your calculations. Qjs] 

by Michael Border 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 195 



More Tools & Features 



Let The Experts 

Handle 
Your Auction 

Trading Assistant Program Lets eBay "Pros" 

Novices 



Help 



i 



t wasn't all that long ago 
that when people thought of 
an auction they thought of 
Sotheby's or of a fast-talking 
auctioneer at a county fair. Ap- 
proaching its 10-year anniver- 
sary, eBay has transcended being 
a Web site — or even a com- 
pany — and has earned a place in 
the English language synony- 
mous with "auction." People 
now use "eBay" as a verb, as in 
"You could eBay that old camera 
and get some money for it." 

People around the world buy 
and sell every day on eBay now. 
But, as ubiquitous as eBay has 
become, there are still those 
who have never bought any- 
thing from it or used it to sell 
anything. Shocking, but true. 

Helping eBay Novices 
Sell Their Items 

To help out those people who want 
some help cleaning out their garages or 
selling their complete set of mint con- 
dition 1968 Topps baseball cards but 
who are too nervous to list the items on 
eBay themselves, eBay came up with its 
Trading Assistants program. 

Trading Assistants are experienced 
eBayers who, for a fee, help others 
list and sell their items on eBay. 
David Karp, author of the book 
"eBay Hacks," thinks that the program 




has advantages for some sellers, but of- 
fers a caveat. "If you love to sell on 
eBay, but have run out of stuff to sell, 
it's natural to want to offer your exper- 
tise to help sell other people's stuff. 
Advantage: a way to fill your time, and 
potentially make a little money in the 
process. Disadvantage: a way to fill 
your time without making enough 
money for it to be worth the hassle." 

What's In It For The Seller? 

Why would a potential seller want 
to enlist the aid of a Trading Assistant? 



Karp points out that "Individual cus- 
tomers have a lot to gain by selling 
items themselves. This is the real heart 
of eBay and the reason it's so suc- 
cessful. Now, the photo-taking, de- 
scription-writing, payment- collecting, 
and package-shipping tasks that 
are all part of selling on eBay take 
time, a commodity not everyone has 
in abundance." 

A lack of time may be the biggest 
reason why someone would resort to 
using a Trading Assistant. Using a 
Trading Assistant essentially allows a 
seller to sell his items on consignment, 
relying on the experience and skill of 
the Trading Assistant when it 
comes to doing business on 
eBay, as well as the time and en- 
ergy of the Trading Assistant 
when it comes to packaging and 
shipping the item(s). 

Karp also notes, "But it also 
takes time to drive your stuff 
down to your local Trading 
Assistant's office; time that 
could be just as easily spent on 
the aforementioned picture- 
taking, description- writing, etc." 
But time is not the only 
consideration. Theoretically, a 
Trading Assistant would also be 
able to get the maximum pos- 
sible amount for your item. 
They have good standing and 
high feedback ratings in the 
eBay community. They are ex- 
perienced at writing descriptions that 
work and taking pictures that show 
off items in ways that will help them 
sell. Many Trading Assistants actually 
specialize in particular categories, 
making them even more expert at 
selling those types of items. 

Of course, that time, effort, and ex- 
pertise come at a price. The fees 
charged by a Trading Assistant are 
not regulated by eBay in any way. 
Typical fees are 20% to 30% of the 
final auction price. If the Trading 
Assistant's expertise and good stand- 
ing on eBay pay off, your item will sell 
for more than if you listed it yourself, 
and the Trading Assistant fees will 



196 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 







|480* |AIICategc 

Matching Categories 
Collectibles 120) 
Toys 8, Hobbies (14) 


Consumer 
Electronics (11) 
Computers K 


Networking (9) 
Everything Else (8) 


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Antiques (7) 
Business S 
Industrial (6) 
Musical 
Instruments (5) 
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Search Options 



There are lots 
search within 



more or less pay for themselves. But, 
there is no guarantee. 

Choose A Trading Assistant 

If you have more items than time, 
or if you just don't feel like trying to 
get through the learning curve of 
listing and selling items on eBay and 
you want to enlist the services of an 
eBay Trading Assistant, 
eBay provides a Trading 
Assistant Directory to help 
you find one. 

You can do a search of 
the Trading Assistants 
Directory by simply en- 
tering a ZIP code, or you 
can do an Advanced search. 
The latter lets you specify 
other criteria such as what 
items the Trading Assistant 
specializes in, what lan- 
guages the Trad-ing 
Assistant speaks, and 
whether or not he offers drop -off or 
pick-up services. 

Once you have the list of Trading 
Assistants in your area, or that meet 
your criteria, there are other factors to 
consider. You can click the Trading 
Assistants on your list to view their 
profiles. The profile will give you de- 
tailed information about the Trading 
Assistant's fees and any requirements 
he may have for listing your items. You 
should also look at his feedback profile 
to see how many transactions he has 
completed on eBay and read some of 
the comments from other people who 
have bought or sold items with the 
Trading Assistant. 

You're hiring the Trading Assistant 
to perform a service for you. Use 
good judgment and common sense in 
choosing the right Trading Assistant 
to sell your item; it needs to be some- 
one with whom you feel comfortable 
doing business. Keep in mind that 
Trading Assistants are not employees 
or independent contractors of eBay. 
Each Trading Assistant is an indepen- 
dent business who has no real affilia- 
tion with eBay. 



Become A Trading Assistant 

If you are an experienced eBay 
seller interested in generating some 
extra money by helping others list and 
sell their items on eBay, perhaps be- 
coming a Trading Assistant is some- 
thing you should consider. 

eBay requires that you have sold at 
least 4 items in the last 30 days, that 



fj Trading AtmtanU Directory 



EASTPOINTE.MI 
Mt. Clemens. Ml 



2519* 
1G45* 
1533* 
1519* 



48035 
48085 
48085 
48047 
48043 
43045 



on eBay and who enjoy trying to max- 
imize the value of a given item. It can 
also be a way to generate some addi- 
tional income. But it may be tough to 
make a living as a Trading Assistant. 

Doing a search on a fairly average 
ZIP code in the Trading Assistant 
Directory returned 84 choices for 
Trading Assistants to do business 
with, just in that immediate area. 
Some have physical loca- 
tions where people can 
drop items off and some 
offer to come out and pick 
the items up. 

David Karp is also leery 
of the potential for mak- 
ing a living as a Trading 
Assistant. In addition to the 
Trading Assistant program, 



of Trading Assistants, especially in densely populated areas. A 
this general ZIP code area turned up more than 80 of them. 



you have a feedback score of at least 
50, that 97% or more of your feed- 
back is positive, and that your eBay 
account is paid up and in good 
standing. Assuming you meet these 
criteria, you can create a profile 
and add your name to the Trading 
Assistants Directory. 

Trading Assistants must consider the 
different aspects of listing sellers' items 
on eBay. Will you pose any restrictions 
on what types or values of items you 
are willing to sell? What fees will you 
charge? Will you pass the eBay selling 
fees on to your customers? Will you be 
responsible for packing and shipping 
the items? How and when will you give 
your customer his money once the 
item has shipped? There are many, 
many other things to consider as well. 
It would be very easy to chip away at 
your profits through "minor" expenses 
that you failed to consider when setting 
up your Trading Assistant business. 

Don't Quit Your Day Job 

Being a Trading Assistant can be 
fun for those who love doing business 



Karp points out, eBay has 
designated Trading Posts. 
An eBay Trading Post is a 
more experienced Trading 
Assistant with a staffed 
drop-off location or store with regular 
business hours. Sellers can drop items 
by a Trading Post without having to 
call ahead or arrange a meeting time. 

Karp says, "Right now, there are 
full-time, brick-and-mortar stores set 
up to sell your stuff for you on eBay. 
Not everyone has the time or the 
know-how to sell effectively, and 
someone who's offering to get money 
for your stuff is certainly worth the 
10% to 20% commissions commonly 
charged. I honestly don't know if 
they are actually making any real 
money; I can only speculate on the 
amount of success these businesses 
are enjoying because I'm seeing them 
all over the place." 

Businesses already selling items on 
eBay may be able to generate additional 
income by offering their services as a 
Trading Assistant or Trading Post. 
While individuals may earn some spare 
pocket change by participating in this 
program, it would be best not to plan 
on making your first million as a 
Trading Assistant. H 

by Tony Bradley 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 197 



More Tools & Features 



Become An eBay 
Affiliate 

Your Web Site Can Earn Commissions 
From eBay 



eBay, a Web site 
on which much 
business occurs, is 
also a business opportunity 
for you. Via its Affili- 
ate program (affiliates 
.ebay.com), eBay equips 
you with its recog- 
nizable name, logo, 
and other promo- 
tional features to 
help you send traf- 
fic eBay's way. 
And why would you 
want to do that? Because you get paid 
as much as $30 each time a visitor to 
your site transacts with eBay. 

Customize Your Site 

To begin with, you'll need an at- 
tractive Web site. Commerce could 
be central or tangential to your site's 
purpose, so eBay provides ways to in- 
corporate revenue-generating features 
into it. You also need to follow a few 
preliminary registration steps to get 
into the program and then you're off 
to choose features to put on your site. 
It's a good idea to first read every- 
thing on the program's How It Works 
page (affiliates.ebay.com/how-affil 
iate-program-works). Keep in mind 
that eBay provides ample resources 
on its Affiliate site to get you started 
in your endeavor. 

HTML required. The Affiliate fea- 
tures you build into your Web pages 
require some basic Web program- 
ming skills. At a minimum, you need 
to know how to open your Web pages 




in a text editor (such as 
Microsoft Notepad) so 
that you can edit their 
HTML code. You 
incorporate the eBay 
Affiliate features by in- 
serting new lines into 
your page's existing 
code. Conveniently, 
eBay performs the 
fanciest technical 
work for you, au- 
tomatically pro- 
ducing the new 
code for you, so you can just copy and 
paste it into your files. All you have to 
do is determine what Affiliate feature 
you want and how you'll display it 
on your site, then go to the toolbox 
(affiliates.ebay.com/tools), click that 
feature, and fill in the blanks as you 
follow the instructions. 



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Use the Affiliate toolbox to choose eBay-linked 
features for your Web pages. 



To place a text hyperlink on your 
site that points to eBay, for example, 
go to the destination page on eBay and 
copy its address from your browser's 
address bar. Then go to the Affiliate 
toolbox page and click the Flexible 
Destination Tool link, paste the desti- 
nation page's address into the box 
provided, and enter the text you want 
your site visitor to click. Click the 
Make My Link button, and eBay gen- 
erates the code for you to copy and in- 
sert into your Web page. The process 
may seem complicated for creating a 
mere text link, but the reason you 
need to feed eBay the particulars of 
your link is that eBay has to know 
when someone bidding on or buying 
an item does so thanks to you — so 
you can get paid. 

You can create other Affiliate fea- 
tures, such as buttons, banners, and 
lists of items, the same way, giving 
eBay the particulars and receiving in- 
sertable code. 

The Affiliate Business Model 

eBay goes out of its way to make 
the business element easy for you. On 
the Affiliate Web site, click the How It 
Works link to learn about business 
models and the payment scheme, the 
Best Practices link to learn how to put 
Affiliate features to work, and the 
Community link to find announce- 
ments and correspond with other 
eBay affiliates. 

Partners 

eBay wants its Affiliates to prosper, 
a fact demonstrated by the range of 
tools and resources offered on the 
Affiliate Web site. Thus, if you think 
the Affiliate program might work for 
you, don't be discouraged by a lack 
of technical know-how or business 
sense. The folks at eBay will eagerly as- 
sist you where you need help — you are 
doing each other a favor, after all. Qjs] 

by Ray Collier 



198 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



The eBay 
Merchant Kit 

Use Your Web Site To Auction Items On eBay 



If you have a sales-oriented Web 
site that regularly moves a large 
volume of inventory, there may be 
times when certain items are not 
selling. The typical solution to this 
dilemma is to offer sales, promotions, 
or discounts so that you can move 
this inventory quickly. Another op- 
tion is to sell by lots to other busi- 
nesses. Either approach may move 
inventory, but either can also result in 
a net loss. 

One alternative is to let eBay help 
you move your inventory by auction. 

Make eBay Part Of Your Web Site 

eBay can offer your business the 
ability to embed, within your own Web 
site, links to inventory that your busi- 
ness chooses to auction on eBay. This is 
what eBay calls the eBay Merchant 
Kit. (Detailed information about the 
eBay Merchant Kit can be found at 
pages.ebay.com/api/merchantkit.html.) 

Auctioning goods via the Merchant 
Kit can offer the following benefits: 

• Because eBay currently has over 50 
million active users, you may be 
able to move any surplus inventory 
quickly, and hopefully at a decent 
profit margin. 

• Except for listing your auction 
items using standard eBay tools, 
your business doesn't have to 
maintain the auction site directly; 
eBay does it for you. 

• Because the auction is embedded 
directly within your Web site, the 
auction appears to be part of your 
Web site, not part of eBay. 

• eBay permits the use of the eBay 
Merchant Kit free of charge to 



your business. (Of course, any ap- 
propriate eBay and PayPal fees 
still apply.) 
• It's easy for even novice program- 
mers to do. 

Using The eBay Merchant Kit 

eBay has made it simple for you or 
your Web site programmers to imple- 
ment the eBay Merchant Kit with a 
minimum of effort. Without getting 
too technical, here is how it works. 

Most of the Internet is built on 
HTML (Hypertext Markup Lan- 
guage). HTML includes the concept 
of frames, locations on a Web page 
in which information 
(for example, a picture 
or table) resides and is 
viewed. You can think 
of a frame as a window 
through which infor- 
mation shows, having 
a top and left position 
and a set width and 
height. (Since your 
browser already con- 
stitutes a window of 
sorts, a frame is essen- 
tially a window within 
that window.) 

Using the common 
method of displaying 
HTML frames for programming the 
Web, eBay provides an elegant and 
simple approach for displaying your 
eBay auction items on your site: eBay 
requires that you place its auction in- 
formation in a frame. Since eBay 
wants you to display auction informa- 
tion in a frame, you or your develop- 
ment team can decide on the exact 



placement (top, left, width, height) of 
that frame, and therefore of any of 
your business's eBay auction items on 
your own site. 

Doing so requires just one line of 
code. (Although it's a fairly long line.) 
Here is a sample piece of code for 
linking to eBay; eBay calls such a code 
fragment a sniplet: 

<script src="http://syndicate.ebay 
.com/ebayshop/ebayshop.dll?GetSelle 
rList&uid=Your_Business_Login_ID 
&fontsize=2&numofitems=50&bill 
point= 1 &highlight= 1 &fontface=ver 
dana&sortby=endtime&sortdir=asc& 
siteid=0&catid=0"></script> 

Even readers without much HTML 
background or experience could prob- 
ably look at this code and see that what 
it actually does is execute a script re- 
siding on an eBay server. Given your 
ID, that script creates the actual listing 
and attributes any resulting commerce 
to your business. 

For reasons discussed in greater de- 
tail below, it's best to generate your 




own sniplet, but if you wanted to, you 
could theoretically use this one; your 
programmers would simply substitute 
your login ID for the Your_Business 
_Login_ID value shown in the code 
above. (Your actual affiliate ID is as- 
signed when you sign up for the kit. 
It's that ID that will be used when you 
generate your own sniplets.) 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 199 



More Tools & Features 



RnzC.AMERA.com 



I search all brands^] ^ ■ r.:-,-:v 



Businesses Are Implementing 
This eBay Feature Now 

One good example of how this 
tool is used can be seen at www 
.ritzcamera.com, as highlighted 
on eBay. 

As you can see in the accompa- 
nying illustration, the main Web 
detail at the top of the page is 
from Ritz, but the frame showing 
the eBay Marketplace picture and 
the auction items listed are de- 
rived directly from eBay, gener- 
ated by the programming sniplet 
the Ritz programmers inserted 
into the company site's code. The 
items shown are being auctioned on 
eBay by Ritz Camera, which main- 
tains the auction items independently 
using standard eBay auction tools. 

The Merchant Kit Sniplet Builder 

Although the sample code method 
we included above should work well 
enough, eBay recommends that you 
connect to its Web site and generate 
your own connection code. (After all, 
keep in mind that the format of the 
code may change as eBay's program- 
mers tweak the code-generating ap- 
plication. That could obsolete the 
sniplet we provided above.) In gen- 
eral, you or your programmer would 
follow these steps: 

1) Open your browser and access the 
Merchant Kit Sniplet Builder at 
cgi3.ebay.com/awcgi/eBayISAPI.dll 
?SnippetCreatorLogin. 

2) Log in using your business eBay 
user ID and password. 

3) Review and accept the license 
agreement. 

4) Use the eBay Sniplet generator to 
decide how the frame is to display 
on your Web page. 

a. Select the eBay items you want to 
show on your Web site. Or you 
can display items in a special cate- 
gory (or categories) you have cre- 
ated just for your business. 

b. Select the number of items that 
you want to fit on your Web page 
at one time. 



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RitzCamera uses eBay to auction its wares. 



c. Set a preferred sort order. You can 
sort by: Items Ending First (that is, 
auctions that will end at an earlier 
date), Items Ending Last (auctions 
that will end at a later date), 
Highest Prices First, or Lowest 
Prices First. 

d. Select a font and font size. 

e. If your business uses PayPal, you 
can elect to show the PayPal logo. 
According to eBay, checking this 
box will have no effect if you are 
not registered with PayPal. 

5) If you have paid for a highlight fea- 
ture, check the Highlight checkbox. 
It will show up as text with a yellow 
background. eBay says that the 
"highlight option emphasizes your 
listing with an eye-catching colored 
band," but remember that high- 
lights add to the cost. 

After you have completed the above 
steps, eBay will provide you with a code 
sniplet designed to the specifications 
indicated above. Have your program- 
mers copy this sniplet directly into 
your site's code in order to embed eBay 
auctions into your Web site. As a test, 
eBay will also show you how your 
frame will display with your auction 
items by previewing it immediately in 
your browser. If something is wrong, 
this gives you a chance to correct it be- 
fore you "go live," or link into your ac- 
tive Web site. 

If your business or selected cate- 
gory currently has no items for sale, 



eBay will know that and will in- 
sert the comment, "We are not 
selling any items on eBay within 
this category at this time." 

eBay Merchant Kit Restrictions 

There are certain restrictions to 
the use of the Merchant Kit, but 
they're minimal: First, the eBay 
Merchant Kit license prohibits 
non-eBay items from being sold 
on the same page as the Merchant 
Kit. Second, framing of eBay's 
pages from the Merchant Kit is 
prohibited; in other words, you 
must use the sniplet provided by eBay 
rather than writing your own. 

Costs 

There is no extra charge for using 
the Merchant Kit itself. Simply sign 
in, download the kit, and use it to 
start building your auction listings. 
However, the typical eBay costs do 
apply: eBay charges an insertion fee 
(a listing fee that ranges from less 
than $1 to about $5 for an item listed 
at $500 or more) and, if the item 
sells, a final value fee (a percentage 
of the final selling price, generally 
about 5.25%). If you've opted to 
highlight an item, eBay charges an 
additional $5. 

If you're using PayPal, that compa- 
ny's fees also apply. Those typically 
amount to about 2% of the item's 
value plus a charge of 30 cents per 
transaction. 

Immediate Benefits 

Once you have listed your inven- 
tory items to be auctioned on eBay 
and the items are displaying correctly 
using eBay's tools, and once your pro- 
grammers have linked the provided 
code into your Web site, you can im- 
mediately begin to obtain sales 
through eBay auctions. Qjs] 

by Don Judd 



200 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



The eBay 

Anything Points 

Program 

eBay Attempts To Buy Shopper Loyalty 
With Rewards Program 




Rewards programs are certainly 
not a new concept. Airlines, car 
rental agencies, and hotels all 
consider the concept of rewarding 
customer loyalty a time-tested theory. 
All else being equal, if you can get the 
same airplane ticket to the same desti- 
nation, but also receive rewards 
points in addition that you can use to 
get a bonus gift, that is enough incen- 
tive for many people to consistently 
use the same airline. 

eBay wants to drive customer loy- 
alty to both the eBay auction site and 
its online payment system, PayPal, 
through its Anything Points program. 
The Anything Points reward program 
allows users to accumulate points that 
can be cashed in and used to pay for 
items being auctioned on eBay as well 
as for various eBay fees and services. 



Using Anything Points 
To Sell On eBay 

As an eBay seller, you can take 
advantage of the Anything Points pro- 
gram to add value to your listings. 
You can choose to award 
Anything Points on any 
auction listing you 
have on eBay as long 
as it is listed in U.S. 
dollars and as long 
as PayPal is in- 
cluded as one of 
the available pay- 
ment options. 
As the seller, there 
is no up -front fee to 
you when you opt to 
award Anything Points. You only pay 
for Anything Points that are awarded 
to buyers who pay for their items using 
PayPal. You can assign anywhere from 
one to 10 Anything Points per dollar of 
the winning auction bid. Each point is 
equivalent to 1 cent. If you choose to 
award one Anything Point per dollar 
and your item sells for $50, the buyer 
will receive 50 Anything Points, or 50 
cents. That 50 cents will show up as an 
additional charge on your monthly 
eBay statement. 

The eBay Offer Manager lets you 
assign and monitor Anything Points. 
You can see which of your auctions 
are eligible for rewarding Anything 
Points and choose to assign Anything 



Points rewards to as many or as few of 
your auctions as you choose. Again, 
any charges for the Anything Points 
you have awarded your buyers will ap- 
pear as a single line item on your 
monthly eBay statement. 

Listings with Anything Points as- 
signed will appear like the example 
shown below, readily identifying the 
potential reward to prospective 
buyers. According to the rewards plan 
theory, a potential buyer may be more 
inclined to bid on an auction that is 
offering Anything Points rather than 
bidding on a similar listing that is not 
offering Anything Points. 

Anything Points Benefits For Buyers 

Buyers who wish to receive Anything 
Points rewards need to look for auction 
listings with an Anything Points 
graphic banner posted at the top. 
Another way to identify listings with 
Anything Points rewards assigned is to 
visit the Anything Points Web site (at 
anythingpoints.ebay.com), where you 
can do a search showing only listings 
with Anything Points assigned. 

Let's say that you're looking for a 
Nintendo GameCube and there are 
two listings at $100, but one of them 
is offering five Anything Points per 
dollar. It would make sense to go 



*Hr ^"^^f P er dollar o! Hie final price ' lor buyers who pay wilt, PayPal 



eBay purchases that are worth Anything 
Points have the amount displayed in a banner 
at the top of the listing. 



ahead and bid on the one with the 
Anything Points, because the 500 
Anything Points is equivalent to get- 
ting $5 cash back. You won't see the 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 201 



More Tools & Features 



$5 taken off of the purchase price of 
the item on which you bid, but $5 
worth of Anything Points will be 
credited to your PayPal account to 
use to pay for future purchases. 

The only catch to the program is 
simply that you must pay for the 
transaction using PayPal, which is not 
necessarily a bad thing. PayPal is a se- 
cure and convenient means of trans- 
ferring funds to pay for many things, 
including eBay auctions. It is free to 
buy things using PayPal and you can 



pay for your PayPal purchases directly 
from any bank or credit card account. 
Also, PayPal offers free Buyer Protec- 
tion insurance up to $1,000 on eBay 
purchases, and you can also set up a 
line of credit allowing you to make 
PayPal purchases and pay them off 
like a credit card. 

Using Your Anything Points 

After you've accumulated Anything 
Points, either by paying for qualifying 



Buying On eBay With Frequent Flyer Miles 



Business travelers can 
rack up quite a few 
frequent flyer miles. 
Between the miles 
awarded for the airline 
flights themselves and 
the miles awarded for af- 
filiations with hotels and 
car rental agencies, it 
doesn't take long to 
build a sizeable account 
of frequent flyer miles. 

Those programs have 
their own rewards that 
members can cash in on, 
the primary goal being 
to earn free airline 
tickets or upgrades. 
Those business travelers 
probably never dreamed 
that they would be able 
to cash in all of those 
frequent flyer miles to 
buy an antique English 
oak desk. But through 
affiliate arrangements 
between the eBay 
Anything Points pro- 
gram and various other 
customer loyalty re- 
wards programs, you can 
do just that. 

The Anything Points 
program has arrange- 
ments with a sizeable 
number of other compa- 
nies that let users 



quickly build up a size- 
able balance of Anything 
Points with which to 
make their eBay pur- 
chases. Subscribing to 
the New York Times can 
earn you 3,000 points, or 
$30. Joining the Netflix 
DVD service can earn 
you 2,500 Anything 
Points. Whether you 
want to buy flowers or 
stocks, you can earn 
points if you do business 
with companies affili- 
ated with the Anything 
Points program. 

Deals such as these 
work fine if you happen 
to be in the market for a 
newspaper or DVD ser- 
vice subscription, but 
what if you just happen 
to have tens of thou- 
sands of frequent flyer 
miles sitting in your 
American Airlines 
AAdvantage account 
and have no idea how to 
use them? 

David Karp, eBay ex- 
pert and author of the 
book "eBay Hacks," says, 
"This program lets you 
use airline miles (and 
other corporate com- 
modities) to buy stuff 



with PayPal. If you have 
airline miles you'll never 
use, you can effectively 
cash them out." 

He continues with, 
"The downside is that 
you don't necessarily get 
that good of a deal. 
When I last investigated 
the program, I discov- 
ered that my cache of 
American Airlines 
Frequent Flyer miles 
were worth about half 
the dollar value of the 
actual airline tickets for 
which they were eventu- 
ally exchanged." 

That is certainly 
something that users 
need to consider. But, 
if you have no intention 
of using your frequent 
flyer miles as they were 
originally intended, or if 
you just need a quick 
source of money to pay 
for a must-have item on 
eBay, you can use a site 
such as Points.com 
(www.points.com) to 
transfer balances accu- 
mulated in various re- 
wards programs over 
to your eBay Anything 
Points account. I 



eBay auctions using PayPal or 
through various affiliate programs 
(see the "Buying On eBay With 
Frequent Flyer Miles" sidebar), now 
what do you do with them? The an- 
swer is that you spend them. 

Your Anything Points will be accu- 
mulated and tracked in a special sec- 
tion of your PayPal account. When it 
comes time to pay for an item you 
have won on eBay using PayPal, you 
click the Redemption Code link on 
the Check Payment Details page in 
your PayPal account. Your Anything 
Points balance and value will be dis- 
played, and you can choose how 
many Anything Points you wish to re- 
deem for the current purchase. 
Follow the same steps to use Anything 
Points to pay for eBay seller fees. 

While the eBay Anything Points 
program only allows Anything Points 
to be awarded on auctions that are 
listed in U.S. dollars and are paid for 
using PayPal, Anything Points them- 
selves can be converted to other cur- 
rencies when using them to pay for a 
transaction. The Anything Points will 
first be converted to U.S. dollars and 
PayPal will convert them to Canadian 
dollars, Pounds sterling, or euros, 
thus allowing you to spend your 
Anything Points for eBay auction 
items from around the world. 

Incentive For Keeping Loyal 
Customers Loyal 

Rewards programs are designed to 
foster customer loyalty, not necessarily 
to create customers. Someone who has 
no reason to fly won't do so just for 
the sake of earning some frequent 
flyer miles. Similarly, Internet users 
who don't buy things from eBay and 
who do not conduct online transac- 
tions using PayPal won't find much 
value in the Anything Points program. 
But for the millions of users who 
do use both eBay and PayPal, the 
Anything Points program rewards you 
for being a loyal customer. Qjs] 

by Tony Bradley 



202 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



The eBay 

Business 

Marketplace 

Online Auction Giant Offers 
Opportunities For Businesses 




If you're selling a product or service, 
it's a pretty good bet that you'd like 
to expand your selling opportuni- 
ties. The eBay Business Marketplace 
(pages.ebay.com/businessmarketplace) 
can help. Touted as "The World's On- 
line Marketplace for Business," this 
section of eBay helps businesses buy 
and sell anything from farm imple- 
ments and tractors to bulk items pur- 
chased in lots. You can even use the 
Business Marketplace section to sell 
(or buy) businesses or business ideas. 
Whatever you're selling, the eBay 
Business Marketplace can help you 
broaden your selling opportunities. 

What's Available? 

What's the difference between eBay 
and the Business Marketplace? The 
Business Marketplace is eBay, but re- 
organized specifically so that your 



business can benefit from the site. 
The Business Marketplace contains 
the following sections to assist you. 

Industry. Each Industry subsection 
provides links to a variety of business 
and industrial categories: Agriculture 8c 
Forestry, Construction, Food Service 8c 
Retail, Healthcare, Lab 8c Life Science, 
Industrial Supply, Manufacturing 8c 
Metalworking, Office, Printing 8c 
Shipping, and Other Industries. 

Office technology. This is the com- 
puters and networking subsection, and 
it includes links for Apple Macintosh 
Computers, Cell Phones, Monitors 8c 
Projectors, Desktop PCs, Laptops, 
Networking, Office, Printing 8c Ship- 
ping, Handheld PCs, Printers, Pro- 
jectors, and Software. 

Wholesale lots. If you're interested 
in buying or selling items in lots, this 
category includes a broad range of 
subsections devoted to wholesaling. 



You can find links for Art, Books, 
Business 8c Industrial, Cell Phones, 
Clothing, Shoes 8c Accessories, Cam- 
eras 8c Photo, Collectibles, Computers 
8c Networking, Consumer Electronics, 
Crafts, Dolls 8c Bears, Education 8c 
Learning, Gifts 8c Occasions, Health 8c 
Beauty, Home 8c Garden, Jewelry 8c 
Watches, DVDs 8c Movies, Music, 
Musical Instruments, Pottery 8c Glass, 
Sporting Goods, Sports Memorabilia, 
Toys 8c Hobbies, Video Games, and 
eBay Motors Parts 8c Accessories. 

Other. The most diverse section, this 
includes eBay Motors Commercial 
Trucks, eBay Motors Car 8c Truck 
Parts, Home 8c Garden Tools, Pro 
Audio Equipment, Pro Musical In- 
struments, Cameras 8c Photo, and 
Professional Video Equipment. Finally, 
the Businesses For Sale subgroup in- 
cludes Advertising Inventory, Home- 
Based Businesses, Internet Businesses, 
Websites, Manufacturing, Patents, 
Trademarks, Stores, Service Businesses, 
Vending, Coin- Op, Wholesale Trade 8c 
Distribution, and Other. 

The Business Marketplace As A Tool 

When you're looking at eBay's 
Business Marketplace you're actually 
looking at all of eBay, but reconfigured 
for the business user. This means that 
eBay's search tools can be limited 
to business listings only, auction list- 
ings can contain only items specific 
to things a business sells or needs, 
sellers can highlight their inventory, 
and items can be listed by region for 
specific industries. 

In addition, the Business Market- 
place allows businesses to purchase 
additional sales space in eBay's Busi- 
ness Spotlight section, provides fi- 
nancing opportunities, and includes a 
business-oriented discussion group. 

Obtain A Business Account 

To begin listing items for sale by 
your business, it's best to establish a 
business account. A business account 
differs from a normal eBay account 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 203 



More Tools & Features 



in that it is primarily used by IRS 
taxable entities such as corpora- 
tions or formal partnerships (in 
other words, businesses that 
have established an IRS tax iden- 
tification number). Though 
a business account is not strict- 
ly required to conduct an eBay 
transaction, if you are dealing 
with other businesses, especially 
through purchase and resale, it is 
best to be an established legal en- 
tity as recognized by your local, 
state, and federal authorities. In 
many cases, other businesses 
simply will not deal with you un- 
less you can provide a tax identi- 
fication number. In addition, a 
business account permits you to 
have multiple eBay logins. 

To obtain an eBay business ac- 
count, log in to PayPal (if you 
don't have a PayPal account, you 
should establish one), and click the 
Upgrade Account link, found in the 
Enhance Account section. It also 
helps if you have a business checking 
account that can be debited by 
PayPal. Finally, create a business- only 
email address, so that all of your busi- 
ness-related communications can be 
kept separate from other emails and 
so that recipients can tell from the 
header that the email is coming from 
a legitimate business enterprise. 

A business PayPal account offers 
buyers an easy and safe way to pay for 
their purchases, but keep in mind 
that — in addition to any eBay fees 
(see below) — PayPal charges from 1.9 
to 2.9% of the value of the item, plus 
30 cents per transaction. 

The eBay Store 

The site's Business Marketplace 
section offers another tool you might 
wish to take advantage of: You can 
create an eBay store (click the Open 
An eBay Store link in the Business 
Marketplace section) that will give 
your customers access to more so- 
phisticated search tools and let you 
(and them) participate in special pro- 




The eBay Business Marketplace site (pages.ebay.com 
/businessmarketplace) offers many opportunities for 
both buyers and sellers. 



motions. In addition, you can use an 
eBay store to create custom categories 
that can be used for item searches and 
you can also take advantage of various 
cross-promotional opportunities. 

StoreFront advantages. Having an 
eBay store also lets you create busi- 
ness cards and stationery, simplifies 
importing business data into Intuit's 
QuickBooks accounting application, 
and lets you use PayPal to accept 
credit card charges. 

Note also that eBay offers store 
owners a broad range of help and as- 
sistance, including live help and chat, 
tips, seller tools, workshops, certifica- 
tions, and the eBay Resource Center 
(which turns out to be a great place to 
find downloadable templates to use as 
a basis for advertising). 

Three levels of eBay StoreFront 
are available: Basic, Featured, and 
Anchor. At press time, the lowest level 
costs $9.95 per month. The Featured 
and Anchor levels, offered at $49.95 per 
month and $499.95 per month respec- 
tively, offer additional Web pages you 
can use for listings and promotions, 
some advanced reporting options, pro- 
motional dollars, and the ability to 
send email newsletters to buyers. With 
an Anchor account, eBay also provides 



24-hour live support. Regardless of 
which account you have, eBay 
charges 5.25% of the closing value 
of the sale item as a sales fee. 

Fees may change. Note that 
eBay fees are scheduled to change 
in mid-February. To see current 
fees for any transaction within 
eBay, connect to www.eBay.com, 
click Help, and enter fees as 
a search term. (For more about 
eBay stores, see "Setting Up Your 
Store" on page 149.) 

From Janitorial Supplies To Jets 

On any given day, you can find 
almost anything listed in eBay's 
Business Marketplace. From busi- 
nesses to business ideas and from 
$100 lots of cleaning supplies to 
$100,000 farm combines, almost 
anything an entrepreneur, vendor, 
or manufacturer needs is available. 
(According to an eBay spokesperson, 
the most expensive item ever sold 
through the Marketplace was a $4.5 
million corporate jet.) 

There are some restrictions. Some 
items are simply not allowed to be 
bought or sold on any part of eBay, in- 
cluding weapons or any item or sub- 
stance deemed illegal. Equipment that 
requires a license to own or operate, 
such as pharmaceutical machines, can 
be sold only by one licensee to another; 
thus, one doctor's office can purchase 
such a machine from (or sell one to) 
another doctor's office. 

Expand Your Customer Base 

Through eBay's Business Market- 
place, the company offers many tools 
and plenty of help to aid you in cre- 
ating a solid business presence. Even if 
you already have a successful business, 
having access to an open marketplace 
of 52 million active users who can 
browse through your goods at their 
convenience can't hurt. Qjs] 

by Don Judd 



204 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



Expand Your 
Horizons 

Buy & Sell Internationally With eBay 



International commerce encom- 
passes a dizzying array of potential 
problems. To be successful, and 
stay out of trouble, you need more 
than a passing knowledge of customs, 
duties, taxes, licenses, and quotas; not 
to mention shipping issues, language 
differences, and exchange rates. 

That's the bad news, but it's also 
the good news. With so many poten- 
tial obstacles in the way of success, 
many buyers and sellers aren't willing 
to invest the time to learn all the ins 
and outs or run the risk of making a 
big mistake. That gives you a leg up 
on the competition. When you learn 
more about what's involved, you will 
probably conclude that the potential 
rewards far outweigh the potential 
risk, and that the time you spend 
learning about international com- 
merce is time well spent. 

eBay makes buying and selling in- 
ternationally about as easy as it is 
going to get: Don't let the competi- 
tion find out. 

Overview 

If you're a casual buyer with no 
plans to resell items you buy, or a ca- 
sual seller whose main goal is to reach 
a larger buying pool, eBay provides the 
basic tools and information you need 
to successfully complete a transaction. 

If your goal is to become an im- 
port/export power user on eBay, then 
you may need to broaden your 
knowledge base and learn more about 
customs, duties, quotas, and other 
regulations that affect what you can 
buy or sell. 



Language 



Language can present an obstacle 
to both buyers and sellers. English is 
common in many countries, although 
some words or terms have different 
meanings in different locales. Contact 
the seller if there is any question 
about the meaning of an item's de- 
scription or terms of sale before pro- 
ceeding with a bid. If you're a seller, 
try to avoid using local colloquialisms 
in your item descriptions. 

If you will be buying or selling in 
countries where English is uncommon, 
consider using an online or pocket 
translation dictionary. This is a handy 
tool for creating search phrases for 
items you're interested in buying or 
for creating appropriate and attractive 
descriptions for items you're selling. 
Translation dictionaries aren't the best 
resource for interpreting an item's de- 
scription or terms of sale. For that pur- 
pose, try an online translation service. 

You can also seek help from other 
users in eBay's International Trading 
Discussion Board (forums.ebay.com 
/db2/forum.jsp?forum=3 1 ) . 




Currency 

eBay displays the cost of an item 
in the seller's currency and in the 
currency of the site you are using. In 
most cases, the buyer shoulders the 
cost of the currency exchange, if any. 

For help with currency conver- 
sions, use eBay's Universal Currency 
Converter (pages.ebay.com/services 
/buyandsell/currencyconverter.html). 

Payment 

The seller usually decides upon the 
payment method. When buying or 
selling to other countries, be aware of 
the common and preferred payment 
methods. In the United States, some 
payment methods are considered red 
flags for possible trouble, yet these 
same payment methods are common 
in other countries. 

PayPal, a payment system eBay now 
owns, lets buyers pay in their own cur- 
rency. PayPal performs the currency 
exchange and deposits the proceeds 
into the seller's PayPal account. A 
buyer can use a credit card to make 
a payment through PayPal without 
having a PayPal account. 

Buyers 

Shop eBay, and the world is your 
flea market. With a little time and de- 
termination, you can find your heart's 
desire without ever leaving home. 





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The Advanced Search option allows you to 
search for items in specific locations; in this 
case, the location is Belgium. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 205 



More Tools & Features 



Search for the goods. eBay's stan- 
dard search and listing pages show all 
items located in the United States, 
Canada, the United Kingdom, and 
Australia that sellers have marked as 
available for shipping to the United 
States. No special technique is neces- 
sary to search these listings. 

To expand your search beyond 
these default countries, use eBay's 
Advanced Search link, usually located 
next to or below any Search box. 
When the Advanced Search page 
opens, you will see a number of op- 
tions to tailor your search results. 
Scroll down the list until you see the 
Location section. 

To find items from a specific 
country, select Items Located In 
and choose the country from the 
drop-down box. Add any other 
search criteria, such as price 
range, category, or keywords, and 
click Search. Items you find as a 
result of using this search method 
may or may not be available 
for shipping to your location. 
To limit your search to sellers 
who are willing to ship to your 
country, select Items Available 
To, and choose your country 
from the drop -down box. 

Verify shipping. Before you bid on 
an item, be sure the item is available for 
shipping to your location. Check the 
item description carefully. It should list 
your country or say Worldwide. 

Contact the seller. Even if the item 
description lists your country or 
Worldwide for shipping possibilities, 
it's not a bad idea to contact the seller 
to confirm this information. An inex- 
perienced seller may not be aware of 
any special considerations for ship- 
ping an item successfully. Don't ex- 
pect an immediate response. While 
you're cruising eBay looking for a vin- 
tage widget, the seller may be halfway 
around the world, snug in bed. 

Value Added Tax. VAT (Value 
Added Tax) is common in many 
countries. Whenever value is added, 
including the value of selling and dis- 
tributing an item, the tax kicks in. 



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eBay's Universal Currency Converter takes the hassle out 
of converting prices from one currency to another. 



Many countries will refund the tax, as 
long as you are not a resident of or do 
not have a place of business in, that 
country. Some countries allow sellers 
to forego collecting the VAT when 
selling products outside the country. 
Ask the seller if any VAT is included, 
what the rate is, and who is respon- 
sible for paying it. 

VAT refunds can be time con- 
suming and entail a great deal of pa- 
perwork. For small-ticket items, 
collecting the refund may not be 
worth the trouble. But if you buy 
many items, or big-ticket items, ap- 
plying for a VAT refund may be 
worth the time and aggravation. 

Customs. The buyer is responsible 
for getting an item through customs, 
but because the seller is the one who 
must do all the paperwork, the buyer 
is at the mercy of the seller to provide 
accurate customs documents. You 



may be better off dealing with a seller 
who has experience with international 
shipments or who uses a single car- 
rier that provides assistance with the 
necessary paperwork. 

If all paperwork is in order, the 

item should pass customs without a 

hitch. If there is a problem, as the 

buyer, you are responsible for clearing 

it up. Potential problems include 

valuation issues, where the customs 

official doesn't agree with the value 

assigned in the seller's documents. 

Don't ask the seller to assign a low 

value or specify the item as a gift, in 

the hope that you will pay less or no 

duty at all. You may find your 

items held up in customs while a 

new value is assigned, and you'll 

be billed for the import taxes you 

tried to avoid. 

Customs brokers. If you will 
be involved in numerous imports, 
consider employing the services of 
a customs broker. Customs bro- 
kers provide trained individuals 
who meet the goods as they enter 
customs and act as your agent to 
resolve any issues that may arise. 
Customs brokers know the laws, 
regulations, forms, and limitations 
and can often alert you to any poten- 
tial problems ahead of time. 

Sellers 

The first step into international 
trading through eBay is easy: Enter 
additional Ship To locations in the 
Seller's Items form. You can ship to 
your country of origin, as well as 
Worldwide, the Americas, Canada, 
Mexico, Europe, the United Kingdom, 
Germany, Asia, Australia, and Japan. 

But you knew it couldn't be that 
easy, didn't you? You still have a few 
more things to do before you're ready 
to be an international mogul. 

Prohibited or controlled items. 
Certain items, such as fireworks, may 
not be sold through eBay. Other items 
fall into the Questionable or Potentially 
Infringing categories and may or may 
not be sold, depending on each item's 



206 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



specifics. The Prohibited, Question- 
able, And Potentially Infringing Items 
list is available at pages.ebay.com/help 
/sell/item_allowed.html. 

You also need to be aware of export 
and import limits. The United States 
limits the export of certain items, 
and other countries limit the import 
of certain items. For example, the 
United Kingdom does not allow the 
importation of beef jerky or salami 
from any country, a perfectly reason- 
able rule in our opinion. Other items 
may be under a quota system, which 
limits export or import to a certain 
number of items, or certain sizes, 
such as samples. 

Shipping. After you determine that 
it's legal to ship your items, it's time 
to decide on your shipping strategy. 
eBay's International Rate Calculator 
(pages.ebay.com/services/buyandsell 
/shippinginternational.html) , avail- 
able for both UPS and the U.S. Postal 
Service, lets bidders know what 
shipping costs will be. 

Insurance. Check the shipper's 
insurance policies. Many compa- 
nies automatically insure items 
valued under a specific amount 
(usually $100), but don't assume 
that this is the case. Make sure the 
items are covered; this protects 
both you and the buyer in case 
anything happens to the ship- 
ment or the items themselves. 
Check insurance rates before 
listing an item for sale, because 
you may want to include the cost 
in the item's price or require the 
buyer to pay an additional fee. 

Customs documentation. The 
buyer is generally responsible for 
any duties or tariffs, as well as en- 
suring that the items get through cus- 
toms. However, as the seller, you are 
responsible for completing the neces- 
sary customs paperwork. 

For most items, you will need two 
basic documents: the invoice and the 
Certificate Of Origin. If you are ship- 
ping from within any NAFTA (North 
American Free Trade Agreement; 
www.citizen.org/trade/nafta) country, 



International Assistance 


W ou wouldn't ven- 
I ture into a foreign 


terms of sale, try an on- 
line translation service, 


(www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls 
/fco) has a list of foreign 


country without a 


such as Altavista Babel 


consular offices in the 


guidebook and a little 


Fish Translation (babel 


United States that can 


foreknowledge about 


fish.altavista.com) and 


be helpful for checking 


the lay of the land, 


Google Language Tools 


restrictions, forms, and 


would you? What fol- 


(www.google.com 


other information. 


lows is a short list that 


/language_tools). 




includes some of the 




Shipping 

The U.S. Postal Service 
offers a Postage Rate 


best online resources for 
those interested in inter- 
national trade via eBay. 


Prohibited Or 
Controlled Items 




The World Customs 


Calculator (ircalc.usps 


Online Translation 
Services 


Organization (www 
.wcoomd.org/ie/En/en 


.gov) as well as a list of 
domestic and interna- 


.html) has exporting, im- 


tional Shipping Products 


Dictionaries are fine 


porting, customs, and 


& Services (www.usps 


for words and phrases, 


duties information. 


.com/business/shipping 


but if you need to inter- 


The U.S. Department 


tools/shipping 


pret long descriptions or 


of State's Website 


products.htm). 1 



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If you need help with a translation, or some feedback 
about international trading from other eBay members, 
try the International Discussion Board. 



the NAFTA Statement Form or the 
NAFTA Certificate Of Origin State- 
ment replaces the Certificate Of 
Origin, depending on the value of the 
items you are shipping and the desti- 
nation NAFTA country. 

When you pack your shipment, in- 
clude a copy of the buyer's receipt, 
itemizing the goods purchased and 
the cost. This can be a copy of the 



eBay sales receipt. If a customs 
inspector chooses to open the 
package to verify its contents or 
value and the invoice's value 
statement matches the receipt, it's 
likely the inspector will accept the 
statement of value. 

One last point that can make all 
the difference if you want repeat 
customers: Choose a shipping ser- 
vice that can handle the interna- 
tional shipment from beginning to 
end without involving other ship- 
ping companies. This makes it 
easier to track a package. Ideally, 
buyers won't need to be involved 
in the shipping process until they 
sign for the package at their door. 

Show Me The Treasures 

Now it's time to look for that vin- 
tage thimble you thought would make 
a great gift for your grandmother's 
birthday. Imagine her surprise when 
you tell her it was made just outside 
her old hometown, [rs] 

by Tom Nelson and Mary O'Connor 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 207 



More Tools & Features 



Manage Your 
Listings 

Third-Party Tools Help 
Sell Your Products Quickly 




SALE; 




Selling items on eBay has never 
been a more lucrative endeavor 
than it is today. With more than 
$34 billion in sales last year, eBay has 
become the online destination for 
shoppers searching for great deals and 
sellers looking for great sales. Yet 
listing your sale items manually can 
be a tedious process that eats into 
your bottom line. To help you turn 
your eBay adventures into a robust 
business, we've assembled an array of 
listing agents that can help take the 
drudgery out of creating and submit- 
ting your listings. 

How Listing Software Can Help 

Listing software is designed to help 
minimize the amount of time required 




to create your listings, add a profes- 
sional polish to your listings, and 
schedule and submit your listings. 
Properly pricing your items has a large 
influence on your sales, but a boring, 
unattractive listing will doom you to 
poor financial results. A good list- 
ing software agent should help 
you create eye-catching tem- 
plates, manage your product 
images, and integrate well 
with eBay. The utilities 
we've uncovered range 
from online Web-based 
tools to desktop applica- 
tions that simply create the 
HTML (Hypertext Markup Lan- 
;uage) for your auction listing. 

Spoon Feeder 

SpoonFeeder Auction Software 

$19.95 

www.spoonfeeder.com 

SpoonFeeder won't win any awards 
for a pretty user interface, but it boasts 
a wide array of features that will help 
you create listings that will sell your 
auction items. SpoonFeeder uses a 
tabbed interface that helps you select 
the appropriate category for your 
item, create a compelling description, 
add images that will catch the buyer's 
eye, and preview your listing. 

SpoonFeeder lets you create tem- 
plates for each category of items you 
sell; it also comes with 50 predefined 
templates if you don't want to create 
your own. SpoonFeeder works with 
eBay auctions, eBay fixed-price auc- 
tions, eBay Stores, and eBay Motors. 



Adding images to your listings makes 
them stand apart from similar items. By 
using SpoonFeeder's unlimited image 
hosting (included in the Basic version), 
you can save up to $1.75 per listing 
compared to using eBay's image service. 



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SpoonFeeder's templates help you create a 
listing that will stand out from the pack. 



You can also schedule when your 
listings will be posted to eBay. This 
can be particularly useful when you 
have a large quantity of identical 
items to list. Being able to list them 
over time helps avoid flooding eBay 
with a multitude of items. And the 
scarcer an item is on eBay, the higher 
the typical selling price. 

SpoonFeeder requires Windows 
95/98/NT/Me/2000/XP, a minimum 
60MB of free hard drive space, and 
64MB of RAM. In addition to the 
Basic version that retails for $19.95, 
the Standard License and the Full 
License retail for $49.95 and $99.95, 
respectively. Both come with more 
templates, as well as reporting func- 
tions and item tracking features. 

Auction Quick Lister 

SimpLister 

$7.99 per month (Level One 

Membership) 

simplister.com 

Auction Quick Lister is a Web- 
based tool for creating and submit- 
ting your eBay listings. With your 
SimpLister membership, you can use 
Auction Quick Lister to upload your 
images to their hosting servers, create 



208 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



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Managing your listing images is an integral 
part of SimpLister's AQ Lister. 



your listings based on a variety of tem- 
plates, and submit them directly to 
eBay. SimpLister membership includes 
free image hosting, helping minimize 
the amount of fees you pay to eBay. 

Depending on the volume of list- 
ings you create, the Level One Mem- 
bership may be too limited. With this 
entry-level membership, you're lim- 
ited to 15 auctions or 30 Store items at 
a time. SimpLister offers four addi- 
tional levels; the highest lets you list 
up to 105 auctions or 330 Store items 
and costs $28.99 per month. 

Using a browser-based system fits 
perfectly with eBay, as you can create 
your listings from any computer and 
submit them for immediate listing, or 
schedule them for a later time. Auc- 
tion Quick Lister supports up to eight 
images per listing, and SimpLister of- 
fers a 14-day trial so you can evaluate 
Auction Quick Lister risk- free. 

Lister 

Andale 

$2 per month (10 listings) 

www.andale.com 

Like Auction Quick Lister, Andale's 
Lister is an online tool that works as a 
standalone listing tool or in conjunc- 
tion with Andale's suite of eBay soft- 
ware. Lister features more than 100 
predefined templates that will help 
give your listings a professional 
polish. You can also create your own 



custom templates for each class of 
items you market on eBay. 

Lister also includes a spell check to 
help you avoid embarrassing typo- 
graphical errors, and an easy-to-use 
HTML editor that takes the drudgery 
out of designing an eye-catching ad. 
Once you've created your perfect ad, 
you can use Lister's Ad Archive fea- 
ture. Next time you need to list a sim- 
ilar item, just point, click, and list. 
Lister can also recommend templates 
based on your product categories. 

Lister helps with some of the more 
unpleasant tasks, such as relisting and 
dealing with buyers who fail to pay. 
Lister can automatically offer your 
auction to a different buyer if the win- 
ning bidder fails to pay. You can also 
have Lister automatically relist an item 
if it doesn't sell the first time you list it. 





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Lister combines the best of both worlds: online 
and offline listing creation and management. 



Lister's pricing depends on the 
number of ads you want to list at one 
time. The minimum you'll pay is $2 
per month for 10 listings, and each 
subsequent listing will cost 50 cents. 
Lister has a range of price plans you 
can purchase that scale up to 5,600 
monthly listings. 

If you want the ability to create 
your ads offline, you can download 
Andale's free Lister Pro. Lister Pro has 
all the features of Lister but includes 
shipping and postal integration, 
custom invoicing, as well as support 
for eBay, eBay Motors, eBay Stores, 
Yahoo!, and Amazon. If you need to 
import or export inventory, shipping, 



or customer data, you'll want to use 
Lister Pro. Lister Pro requires Win- 
dows 98SE/2000/XP, 100MB of hard 
drive space, and 64MB of RAM. 

Poster Toaster 

The Poster Toaster Inc. 

Free 

www.thepostertoaster.com 

The Poster Toaster touts itself as 
the "ultimate bulk-listing tool for 
eBay." As the developer's Web site 
asks, "What could be easier than 
toast?" Although the Poster Toaster is 
free, it comes packed with the features 
you need and thorough documenta- 
tion. The Poster Toaster is still in the 
beta stage but is well-polished for a 
prerelease application. 

Poster Toaster helps you create 
folders for your ads, modify or create 
HTML templates for the ads, and then 
post the ads on eBay. One of the best 
features is the program's use of tem- 
plate tags. Template tags hold infor- 
mation that is used repetitively 
throughout your listings. For example, 
if you have standard boilerplate text in 
each listing, you would simply assign it 
to a template tag and insert that tag 
into your auctions. This can help min- 
imize the amount of time needed to 
create a listing and help keep your list- 
ings consistent. 

If you want to post images for your 
ads on a server, the Poster Toaster has 
a Picture Manager that uploads the 
appropriate images to the FTP (File 



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Poster helps you focus on creating and posting 
outstanding eBay auctions. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 209 



More Tools & Features 



Transfer Protocol) server of your 
choice. Picture Manager helps you 
keep your images organized and mini- 
mizes the amount of storage space re- 
quired by removing images that are 
linked to expired auctions. When you 
post your next set of ad images with 
Picture Manager, it will remove any 
expired images. If you're using an on- 
line hosting service to store your im- 
ages, this can save you some space 
on your hard drive. The makers of 
the Poster Toaster also offer image 
hosting for $12 per month with un- 
limited storage space and bandwidth. 

Although the Poster Toaster is an 
easy application to use, it doesn't have 
a large number of sample templates for 
you to use. It includes a WYSIWYG 
(What You See Is What You Get) 
HTML editor for creating templates, 
but you'll want to thoroughly peruse 
the manual before creating your own 
templates. As with most of the tem- 
plate editing tools, there's a preview 
mode so you can see how your ad will 
appear in a buyer's browser. 

If you've been using eBay's Turbo 
Lister or Shooting Star, you can import 
your existing ads into the Poster 
Toaster. If you create a series of ads and 
want to export them at a later date to 
Turbo Lister, the Poster Toaster does 
so easily. The Poster Toaster runs on 
Win98/NT/Me/2000/XP. 

i-Lister 

InkFrog 

$7.95 per month 

www.inkfrog.com 

i-Lister is a Web-based adjunct to 
InkFrog's i-Images image hosting ser- 
vice and requires you to be online to 
create your eBay auctions. i-Lister has 
two modes: one-step i-Lister, where 
each selection and information field is 
on one continuous Web page, and a 
mode that requires a more lengthy 
process where you have to click Next 
for each subsequent information field. 

If you're looking for an easy-to- 
use HTML editor, the i-Lister isn't 
for you. i-Lister is designed around a 




i-Lister uses ActiveX components to make the 
process of creating your auctions simple. Users 
with browsers other than Internet Explorer 
can use a simpler version of i-Lister. 



series of moderately attractive tem- 
plates, but if you want to create your 
own custom templates, you'll need to 
brush up on your HTML skills. 

Where i-Lister has real power and 
potential is in managing your listings. 
As with many of the listing tools for 
eBay, with i-Lister you can list indi- 
vidual auctions, bulk list multiple 
auctions, and schedule the submis- 
sion of your auctions for timely pre- 
sentation. You can also automatically 
relist auctions and automatically reply 
to the winning bidder. 

i-Lister is designed to work in con- 
junction with InkFrog's i-Image and 
i-Showcase services. These services are 
bundled into InkFrog's Premium and 
Pro Plans, but to get the full use of i- 
Lister, you'll need to sign up for the 
Pro Plan at $12.95 per month. This 
gives you space for up to 1,000 images 
on InkFrog's server. 

Cycline 3 Auction Listing Creator 6.5 

Cycline3 

$10 

www.cycline3.com 

Cycline3 Auction Listing Creator is 
a snappy-looking application that cre- 
ates professional-looking auctions in 
a minimum amount of time. A seven- 
step process guides you through the 
auction creation process. The pro- 
gram features 15 predefined templates 
that you can modify to some extent. 



What Cycline3 Auction Listing 
Creator lacks is any way to create new 
templates. It also lacks the ability to 
upload your listings directly to eBay. 
To upload your auction, you'll need 
to copy Cycline3 Auction Listing 
Creator's HTML output to your 
Clipboard and paste it into eBay. 

Although Cycline3 Auction Listing 
Creator may lack many of the features 
that are integrated into other listing 
tools, you may find that it fits your 
needs perfectly. For eBay sellers who 
aren't managing hundreds of auctions 
but still want a sharp -looking listing, 
Cycline3 Auction Listing Creator 
helps you assemble an auction with a 
minimum of time and fuss. Cycline3 
Auction Listing Creator will run on 
computers using Mac OS9/OSX or 
Win98/2000/XP. 




Buyer and Seller Tools, Web Integration 



Track | Track auctions. 

Web | Search auctions, the web and m 



Time Show the Ci 



Cycline3's Auction Listing Creator lets you 
quickly create sharp eBay auction ads. 



The Right Tool For The Right Job 

Although many of the listing tools 
assembled here strive to be your one- 
stop eBay listing shop, they all go 
about assisting you in unique and dif- 
ferent ways. Some focus on creating 
sharp looking auction listings, while 
others integrate with image hosting 
sites. Whether you list hundreds of 
auctions per week or follow a more 
leisurely selling pattern, there's a 
listing tool that will fit your budget 
and your style to help you create ads 
that sell quickly and profitably. H 

by Chris Jackson 



210 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



Third-Party 
Sales Tools 

Enhance Your eBay Success 




If you want to sell successfully on 
eBay — particularly if you want to 
make a living at it — you need 
more than great products. On any 
given day, buyers can choose from 
millions of items in thousands of cat- 
egories. (eBay posted a record 1.4 bil- 
lion listings in 2004.) Savvy sellers 
instruct eBay newcomers to find a rel- 
atively unique product and learn 
everything they can about it. How- 
ever, they also note that within days 
after a seller discovers his niche, other 
sellers will start offering the same or a 
similar product for less. 

To make a real go of their eBay 
sites, many sellers — especially high- 
volume dealers — look to third-party 
sales tools for assistance. These pro- 
grams range from $15 fee finders (cal- 
culators that determine the add-on 
charges for products you sell) to $600 
order-management packages that 



coordinate and track 
product delivery. For 
this article, we selected 
some of the better-re- 
ceived selling tools for 
your evaluation, ac- 
cording to eBay sellers, 
market experts, and re- 
viewers. No matter 
what your budget or 
level of sales expertise, 
you will find a product 
here that could enhance 
your success. 

The Right Choice 

The problem for 
many sellers, especially those just 
starting out, isn't finding sales tools to 
assist them. Rather, the challenge is 
deciding which tools represent a value 
for their investment. 

As the popularity of eBay has 
soared, the number of third-party 
tools has also expanded rapidly. 
eBay's Solutions Directory lists more 
than 100 products in its Selling 
Solutions category, plus several dozen 
under Other Solutions. (Other So- 
lutions encompasses selling-related 
tools and services such as data ana- 
lyzers, site consultants, and wholesale 
resources.) In addition, there are at 
least a dozen solutions not listed on 
eBay that sellers may find helpful. 

Unfortunately, as with online 
stores, software vendors can disappear 
as quickly as they arise, leaving users 
stranded with little or no technical 
support. Even the eBay Solutions 



Directory contained several defunct 
products or companies. (If you want 
to visit the Solutions Directory, click 
the services link at the top of the eBay 
home page at www.ebay.com. Look 
under Selling Services for Listing 
Solutions and then click the eBay 
Solutions Directory.) 

To be safe, unless a program is in- 
expensive (say, less than $20) and will 
not require a substantial time invest- 
ment, stick to reputable vendors with 
a history of success. It also helps to 
use developers whose main business is 
developing retail sales tools rather 
than Web applications or other mar- 
ginally related programs. All the 
products listed in this article have 
won awards or garnered user and/or 
industry acclaim. 

We have divided selling tools into 
several broad categories: customer 
service and tracking, data and market 
analysis, product and order manage- 
ment, and site design and appearance; 
product listing tools are covered in 
"Manage Your Listings" on page 208. 
Some companies offer a comprehen- 
sive solution that provides assistance 
in most, if not all, of these areas. For 
more information about these total 
auction management products, see 
"The Total Picture" sidebar. 

Customer Service & Tracking 

This category includes products 
that notify you when a potential cus- 
tomer makes a bid or when you re- 
ceive a customer communication. It 
also includes products that let you 
communicate with and service your 
customers, and keep track of what 
else they're doing on eBay. 

BayToGo 

BayToGo.com 

Free (BayToGo Basic); $2.95 monthly 

(BayToGo PLUS) 

www.baytogo.com 

This simple program can track 
your bids, sales, and customers and 
alert you wirelessly with updates. It's 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 211 



More Tools & Features 



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With BayToGo, you can receive an immediate 
alert whenever sales-related activity occurs on 
your eBay Web site. 

great for individuals who do not sell 
full time and/or travel frequently. 
BayToGo works by retrieving your 
site information directly from eBay's 
servers and then cross-referencing it 
against the preferences you establish. 
If the new data warrants an alert, 
BayToGo sends an SMS (short mes- 
sage service) text message to your mo- 
bile phone, handheld device, or the 
email address of your choice. 

BayToGo offers two versions: Basic 
and PLUS. With Basic, BayToGo will 
check your site every 15 minutes be- 
tween 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. and alert you 
when someone places a bid. To en- 
able this function, you must add the 
BayToGo HTML (Hypertext Markup 
Language) code to every listing you 
want to track. 

BayToGo PLUS is much more ex- 
tensive and does not require manual 
updating of HTML code. PLUS lets 
you customize the parameters, such 
as time of day and bid increment, 
that determine whether you will be 
notified. You can also request alerts 
when your total sales income reaches 
a certain level, when a bid reaches a 



predefined level, or on the first or last 
bid of an item. 

Additionally, BayToGo PLUS can 
create reports based on your items' 
bidding histories for a user-defined 
period. Reports include your sales 
volume, number of items sold, 
number of customers, and average 
sales price. They also break out your 
sales by buyer and include informa- 
tion on those buyers such as their last 
purchase date and the number of 
feedbacks they have. 

After BayToGo generates a report, 
you can sort it by customer, purchase 
amount, and more, and you can also 
expand any customer's listing to see 
what items he has purchased. Using 
these reports, you can evaluate sales 
trends, identify loyal customers, and 
obtain an overall snapshot of your 
operation and its customers. 

BidderBlock 

HammerTap 

Free 

www.hammertap.com 

This helpful little utility is less 
about managing customers you do 
want and more about eliminating the 
ones you don't. BidderBlock lets you 
create and manage lists of blocked 
bidders — people who cannot bid on 
your products. 

With BidderBlock, you can connect 
to the eBay server to retrieve your ex- 
isting list of blocked bidders, or you 



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Prevent problematic shoppers from bidding 
on your products with BidderBlock. 



can start a new list. If you do not have 
a list, you must add blocked bidders 
manually; there is no feature for re- 
trieving bidders with negative feed- 
back or other issues. However, to add 
a bidder you will need only his eBay 
user name. Additionally, BidderBlock 
can import text files of blocked bid- 
ders you store on your PC. 

After you establish a list, Bidder- 
Block can connect to the eBay server 
and display feedback on bidders (both 
received and left) in your Web 
browser, as well as items the bidder is 
currently trying to buy (Bidder List) 
or sell (Seller List). 

New bidders you add to your list 
during any given session will not ac- 
tually be blocked from bidding on 
your auctions until you upload the 
updated list to eBay. Consequently, 
you could also use BidderBlock to 
evaluate bidder feedback and then re- 
move them from the blocked list be- 
fore upload if you decide they pass 
muster. Should a troublesome bidder 
improve his attitude, you can also re- 
move him from the list at any time. 

BidderBlock has an email feature 
that can, at your request, automati- 
cally generate a notification to any 
user you select. For these messages, 
you can use BidderBlock's boilerplate 
text or create your own. Finally, you 
can export your Blocked Bidders list 
to other eBay users. 

Vendio Customer Manager 

Vendio Services 
Various service plans 
www.vendio.com 

For a monthly fee, Vendio Services 
will give you access to Customer 
Manager, a combined email and data- 
base program. Customer Manager 
gives you an email address on the 
Vendio server, which then becomes 
your eBay mailing address. You then 
upload your winning bidder infor- 
mation to the database. If you use 
Vendio's Sales Manager product, 
Customer Manager can also import 
all your customer and sales data. 



212 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & 



Otherwise, you must manually add 
additional information. 

Customer Manager links customer 
records with their related emails, cre- 
ating a centralized, searchable data- 
base. You can search for and retrieve 
information and emails about items 
sold, customers, transaction dates, 
and other helpful criteria. You can 
also sort your customer base, letting 
you categorize customers based on 
sales totals, payment histories, and 
other criteria. 

Customer Manager supports filters 
and other customization options, so 
you can establish dedicated inboxes 
for orders, payments, inquiries, or for 
specific customers and other impor- 
tant correspondents. Using your 
database, you can also send bulk or 
individual email messages to cus- 
tomers in your database. 

Customer Manager's pricing is 
based on the number of emails you 
send (there is no charge for incoming 
emails), so if you plan to do a lot of 
bulk marketing, the Gold Plan 
($39.95 monthly) will be the best 
value. The base plan (Silver Plan, 
$14.95 per month) is for 1,000 out- 
bound emails monthly, and Vendio 
charges 3 cents for each additional 
email. The Gold Plan gives you 10,000 
emails a month and additional emails 
are only half a penny apiece. 

With Customer Manager, you can 
automate your outgoing email 
replies, and you can customize or 
even personalize them. You can also 
customize the email client display to 
suit your needs. However, Customer 
Manager is designed to work most 
seamlessly with Sales Manager, and 
it only tracks emails sent to the 
Vendio server. 

Data & Market Analysis 

The products in this category col- 
lect information on eBay sales — either 
your own or someone else's — and 
structure it so you can determine 
what products are selling, where, and 
when. Although eBay classifies these 



products as Other Solutions rather 
than Selling Solutions, we feel they 
can be pivotal to your success. 

Particularly, if you are building your 
product database or are struggling to 
sell an existing product line, you'll find 
these tools quite helpful. If you find 
the cost of the two solutions discussed 
here to be a bit much, you may also 
want to consider using Auction 
Intelligence (www.certes.net). Auction 
Intelligence performs market analysis 
for $9.99 per month. 






ILI 



Deep Analysis mines the eBay database to 
extract and analyze sales information on 
items (or entire merchandise categories) 
available on eBay. 



DeepAnalysis 2 

HammerTap 

$179 plus $49.95 annual license renewal 

(for access to eBay data) 

www.hammertap.com 

DeepAnalysis 2 gives you access to 
a wide array of information about 
eBay auctions based on keywords or 
product categories you supply. To 
further refine your search, you can 
enter optional criteria such as eBay 
seller, time period, and price. Rather 
than scan the entire eBay database, 
you can opt to have DeepAnalysis 
scan only data from your site or that 
of any eBay user for whom you have a 
valid User ID and password. 

DeepAnalysis structures its results 
into three displays visible under the 
Auctions, Sellers, and Reports tabs. 
On the Auctions tab there is a spread- 
sheet-style display of matching items 
with additional information in nearly 



two dozen categories, including item 
numbers, starting and ending prices, 
number of bids, quantity sold, seller 
fees paid, auction duration, and other 
statistical sales information. 

From this display, you can click any 
item to view its eBay listing or click 
any column heading to sort the entire 
results listing in ascending or de- 
scending order by that category. If you 
need to modify your search, you'll 
have to start over again with new cri- 
teria. Additionally, DeepAnalysis 
doesn't recognize Boolean search 
strings. For example, performing a 
"Nike NOT Adidas" keyword search 
will look for all items that mention ei- 
ther product rather than all items that 
mention Nike and none that mention 
Adidas as a Boolean search would do. 

The Sellers tab provides a listing of 
sellers (by eBay Seller ID number) 
who listed products meeting your cri- 
teria, along with helpful data such as 
their auction success rate, the number 
of items they listed, and more. As 
with the Auctions display, you can 
sort by any category in the spread- 
sheet to help you find which sellers 
are having the most success. 

The Reports tab organizes your 
search returns into graphical format. 
It lets you see at a glance such helpful 
information as average sale prices, 
sell- through (success) rates, and total 
sales in an eBay category. 

WhizAnalysis 

WHIZMining 

$149 (Standard Edition); $279 

(Professional Edition) 

www.whizanalysis.com 

Like DeepAnalysis, WhizAnalysis 
searches for and structures sales data 
based on criteria you provide. The pro- 
gram uses an artificial intelligence algo- 
rithm to mine data from the millions 
of eBay listings and extract those that 
are meaningful (for example, "wedding 
gown" from "gorgeous, never-before- 
worn Vera Wang wedding gown"). For 
each batch of results, WhizAnalysis 
automatically runs a performance 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 213 



More Tools & Features 



analysis and then lets users view a va- 
riety of graphical reports that put those 
results into statistical perspective. 
Number- crunchers will love this pro- 
gram, but its visually confusing inter- 
face may initially overwhelm others. 

Unlike DeepAnalysis, WhizAnalysis 
doesn't segment information displays 




Whiz Analysis mines eBay market data and 
organizes it into an assortment of colorful, 
graphical displays. 

into tabbed categories. Rather, users 
select from a variety of display op- 
tions listed on a single vertical pane. 
In most views, WhizAnalysis displays 
search results in a spreadsheet format 
in the upper pane and the selected 
graphical display in the bottom pane. 
If a user selects a particular item from 
the spreadsheet, WhizAnalysis will 
generate a new analysis on the fly for 
that item. Additionally, users can 
click the View Item tab at the bottom 
of the display to open the eBay listing 
site for any selected item. 

In addition to searching for and 
performing analyses of categories and 
items, WhizAnalysis can perform an 
analysis of all auctions by any eBay 
seller within the past 30 days. This 
feature not only lets users analyze 
their own 30-day performance, it also 
lets them evaluate track records of 
their competitors or of sellers who use 
techniques they think might work. 

WhizAnalysis offers two versions: 
Standard ($149) and Professional 
($279). The main difference between 
the two versions is that Professional 
offers two display options — Pricing 
Optimizations and Daily Reports — 



not present in the Standard edi- 
tion. Pricing Optimizations is a 
graphical display that shows you, 
for any selected item, what the 
optimal selling price would be 
based on the sales data Whiz- 
Analysis collected. Daily Returns 
is a two -week sales snapshot of all 
the relevant categories included 
in your search, broken down by 
daily sales. 

Inventory & Order Management 

This category consists of software 
that assists with product-related tasks, 
such as calculating sales and shipping 
fees and processing orders for ship- 
ment. If you need help with inventory 
management and control, you may 
also want to explore the many excel- 
lent retail sales products that are 
available for both online and brick- 
and-mortar retailers. 

FeeFinder 

HammerTap 

$12.99 

www.hammertap.com 

FeeFinder is a basic calculation pro- 
gram optimized to determine various 
expenses for the items you list. Fee- 
Finder uses a simple tabbed interface 
with a separate display for calculating 
single item listings, multiple item list- 
ings, payments, and shipping costs. 

With the Single Item and Multiple 
Items calculation tabs, you indicate 
the listing type, total number of items 
(for multiple-item listings), any 
value-added features (such as Home 
Page Featured, Ten Day Auction, or 
Supersize Picture), and an opening 
and closing price. FeeFinder calcu- 
lates the eBay fees and tells you how 
much that listing will set you back. It 
does not display profit net proceeds; 
you'll have to subtract the fees from 
the selling price yourself. 

For the Payment Services tab, you 
tell FeeFinder the payment amount 
and the type of fee-based payment 
system you are using, and FeeFinder 



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associated with a sale, payment, or shipment. 



again calculates your fees. The Ship- 
ping tab, however, is not a calcula- 
tion tab. Rather, it links to the Web 
sites of major shipping companies, 
from which you can obtain the rates 
you need. 

FeeFinder is not an accounting 
package, and it does not offer any to- 
taling feature. In other words, it does 
not track the various fees and expenses 
it calculates and then figure your total 
sales and shipping expense. Never- 
theless, it's a handy tool, not only for 
calculating actual fees but also for ex- 
ploring how costs increase if you use 
various value-added services or change 
your minimum opening bids. 

Interapptive 

$599 
www.interapptive.com 

At $600, Ship Works is an expensive 
product for serious sellers. None- 
theless, if you are so bogged down by 
shipping hassles that you cannot con- 
centrate on selling (a common prob- 
lem with eBay sellers), you may find 
the convenience worth the price. 

ShipWorks completely automates 
the order management process from 
the time the order arrives until the 
item arrives at the purchaser's loca- 
tion. You still have to package the item 
(and take it to the shipper if you don't 
have pick-up service), but ShipWorks 
handles the paperwork and record- 
keeping associated with the shipment. 

ShipWorks connects securely with 
your eBay account, downloading 



214 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



orders and shipping information as it 
arrives. It then communicates with 
UPS WorldShip, Stamps.com, the U.S. 
Postal Service, and Endicia DAZzle 
(an Internet-based, international 
postage service) to prepare labels and 
order postage. (ShipWorks does not 
integrate with Federal Express, Air- 
borne, and other overnight specialty 
shippers.) It supports bulk printing of 
shipping labels to a variety of printers 
and formats — thermal, inkjet, multi- 
label sheets, etc. 

After processing, ShipWorks auto- 
matically stores the shipment infor- 
mation and emails your purchaser 
delivery information, including a 
clickable link to track the package. It 








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tracking procedure for anywhere from 10 to 
10,000 items with ShipWorks. 



also tracks the package on your end. 
As a bonus, ShipWorks also moni- 
tors buyer feedback, tracks checkout 
status, sends bulk payment reminders, 
and supports bulk upload of your 
feedback regarding your customers. 

ShipWorks includes an extensive 
gallery of templates you can use, not 
only for shipping labels and packing 
slips but also for invoices, shipping 
reports, confirmation emails, and 
more. You can customize any of these 
templates to your needs with the in- 
cluded Template Manager. 

Site Design & Appearance 

Many sellers use the eBay template 
to create their listings or stores and 
never give the design another thought. 



However, savvy sellers use graphic 
tools to add interest and help 
market their products. The prod- 
ucts in this category are add-ons 
designed to highlight your prod- 
ucts and encourage sales. If you 
need to spice up the appearance of 
your Bay Store overall, consider a 
specialized site-builder such Omni 
Auction Builder (www.omniauc 
tionbuilder.com) or even a tradi- 
tional Web design program. 

TSM Technologies 

$1.99 and up 
www.i2iauction.com 

i2iAuction is a service, rather than 
a program, that adds a streaming 
multimedia video to any eBay auction 
description. With i2iAuction, you 
have two upload options. You can 
record directly to the i2iAuction 
servers using your Web cam and i2i 
will automatically insert it into the 
site of your choice. 

Alternately, you can record and 
produce your auction video (with 
sound, if desired) and upload it to 
i2iAuction for compression and for- 
matting. i2i then makes the video 
available in the My Videos section of 
its Web site, where you can retrieve it 
for insertion into one of your listings. 

i2i supports all the most common 
video formats, including MOV 
(QuickTime multimedia), WMV 
(Windows Media Video), AVI (Audio 
Video Interleave), and MPEG-4 
(Moving Picture Experts Group-4), 
as well as other standard formats 
and videos made using Windows 
Moviemaker. 

Visitors to your site see a blank 
yellow window in the Description 
area with two Play Video buttons. 
One button streams the video imme- 
diately for cable and DSL (digital sub- 
scriber line) users; the other buffers 
the video and then plays it for those 
with dial-up Internet access. In order 
to view your video, shoppers do not 
need to download any special soft- 
ware or browser add- ins. 




With i2iAuction, you can use streaming videos to 
show potential shoppers exactly what you are selling. 



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Omni Auction Builder offers ready-made 
layouts that help you build a visually 
stimulating eBay site. 

The company prices its service per 
video and each video upload is view- 
able for a 10-day period. Prices begin 
at $1.99 for a 30-second video, with a 
10-minute video costing $14.99. 

Omni Auction Builder 

$20 to $60 

Jason's PC Software 

www.omniauctionbuilder.com 

Think of Omni Auction Builder as 
the Web-design program especially 
made for eBay sellers. It comes with 
an array of templates, plug-ins, and 
color palettes and other useful ele- 
ments that help you enhance your 
auction sites. In addition, purchase of 
the software includes free photo 
hosting ($20 includes 20 hosted im- 
ages; $60 includes 100 hosted images). 

With Omni Auction Builder, you 
can incorporate popular Web-design 
goodies — such as custom layouts, 
background images, bulleted lists, and 
thumbnails for images — that often 
elude novice sellers. You can also 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 215 



More Tools & Features 



The Total Picture 



Rather than specialize, some companies offer TAM (turn-key, or total, auction 
management) for a monthly or yearly fee. Others, such as Marketworks 
(www.marketworks.com), act as consultants and developers, originating custom 
management services for their customers. These companies' services and pricing 
vary widely, from $4.95 per month to thousands of dollars per year. 

TAM products help you manage the overall auction process. They often in- 
elude listing or site builders, inventory and sales management components, order 
fulfillment and tracking modules, and other important features. Because of the 
breadth of this category, we did not attempt to cover a representative selection. 

If you are considering a TAM service, take a look at Auction Commander 
(www.qwe.net/auctions). Although it is not the most extensive product on the 
market, at $19.95 it is an excellent value. If you are interested in a monthly or yearly 
fee service, AAASeller ($9.95 to $44.95 per month, based on service level; www 
.aaaseller.com), Sold! ($79.95 per year; www.timbercreeksoftware.com), SpareDollar 
(the budget leader at $4.95 per month; www.sparedollar.com), or Vendio Sales 
Manager ($12.95 to $39.95 per month; www.vendio.com) may fill the bill. 

If you decide a TAM service is for you, ask about the fees involved. In addition 
to the monthly or yearly fees, some companies charge a fee per listing; others tack 
on a final value fee (a percentage of the sale price) per item sold. Because 
switching services can be time-consuming and potentially destructive to your 
data, make sure you select the right service up front. I 



auto-insert objects, such as formatted 
shipping and payment information, 
as well as links to other sites and op- 
erations, to streamline the selling 
process. Many of the features you will 
want to add are template- or wizard- 
driven, further simplifying the process 
for beginners. 

At any time, you can preview your 
auction from within Omni Auction 
Builder, or you can view, edit, or save 
the HTML source code Omni Auction 
Builder generates. When you are 
ready, you can import your efforts 
using Omni Auction Builder's built-in 
upload feature, or you can cut and 
paste your HTML code using the stan- 
dard eBay interface. 

Omni Auction Builder also supports 
(and lets you edit) eBay Auction 
Builder projects; you must convert 
them to Omni format first using the 
program's Project Converter tool. 

Vendio Gallery 

Vendio Services 

$2.95 to $6.95 per month 

www.vendio.com 





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Wizards in Omni Auction Builder help you add 
important external components and links to 
your eBay Web site. 



One of the greatest challenges a 
seller faces is to encourage prospective 
purchasers to view all available items 
rather than wandering off to another 
site. Vendio Gallery helps accomplish 
this goal, offering graphic enhance- 
ments that spice up listings as they 
cross-promote other items. 

With Vendio Gallery, a seller selects 
one of four layouts (Marquee, Slot 
Machine, Memory Game, or Basic), 
each of which showcases inventory in a 
moving display. Marquee resembles a 



filmstrip; items scroll by horizontally as 
visitors browse the site. When an item 
hits the center pane, the image in- 
creases slightly in size and a brief sales 
summary appears beneath it. 

Slot Machine features an interactive, 
game- style display. As users click the 
slot machine handle, items mixed with 
slot machine symbols pop up in each 
of the machine's three windows. When 
a user runs a mouse pointer over an 
item, information about it appears 
above the slot machine. 

Memory Game also offers a game 
component, but in this case visitors 
attempt to find matching items. When 
a visitor finds a match, the informa- 
tion display expands to include cur- 
rent bidding information on the item. 

The Basic layout works in similar 
fashion to Marquee. This layout ar- 
ranges items in a grid display with a 
scrolling bar shoppers can use to move 
up or down the page. 

If, at any time, a visitor clicks a pic- 
ture in any of the formats, that item's 
eBay listing page displays. It works 
this way whether the listing page is in 
the eBay Marketplace or an eBay 
Store. eBay Marketplace listings com- 
mand a premium, because they are 
included in the eBay general search 
database and therefore usually draw 
more traffic. With Vendio Gallery, 
sellers can put only one or two hot 
items in the Marketplace and gain ex- 
posure for the other items they are 
selling through their eBay Store. 

Going, Going, Gone 

For any fledgling small-business 
owner, parting with hard-earned cash 
can be a difficult proposition. Never- 
theless, if you become bogged down 
in peripheral details, you won't have 
enough time to market your product 
effectively. If you start selling more 
than a few items a day, you will likely 
find the task much easier (and the 
profit margins higher) with a little 
digital assistance, [jjs] 

by Jennifer Farwell 



216 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



Third-Party 
Buying Tools 

A Win Is In The Bag 




A quick Google search reveals 
that there are lots of tools and 
utilities for the eBay seller, but 
what about tools for the buyer? Al- 
though there aren't as many, some 
good buying tools are out there, and 
as any veteran eBay buyer can tell you, 
until you start seriously monitoring 
and managing your auctions with one 
of these tools, the big guys are going to 
win the best stuff and spend the least 
time doing it. As an introduction to 
what's available, let's look at some of 
the best buying tools, what they offer, 
and how you can get them. 

It Starts With Sniping 

If you've ever watched the final 20 
seconds of an auction tick by, you've 



probably seen the fury of last- second 
bidding, called sniping, that always 
seems to leave you as the loser and 
someone else with the 
prize. It's true that those 
with broadband connec- 
tions have an advantage 
over dial-up users when 
it comes to making last 
second bids (because in- 
formation travels faster 
with such connections), 
but did you know that 
there are software pack- 
ages and services that 
help anyone become a 
snipe-master? 

To define sniping a bit 
better, it's the process of 
placing a bid at the last 



possible second of an auction, giving 
no time for other bidders to react and 
counter your bid. Although it's not 
perfect, more times than not, sniping 
gets you the item. Besides helping you 
win an auction, sniping also helps 
keep the price of auction items lower 
by reducing the effects of bidding 
wars, where the price escalates as 
buyers bid back and forth over a pe- 
riod of time. 

You will find that some eBay users 
frown on the practice of sniping, but 
it's not illegal, it happens all the time, 
and most veteran buyers practice the 
art. But rather than waiting for the 
end of an auction to enter a bid man- 
ually, pro buyers let sniping software 
do it for them. 

Bidnapper 

Abercrombie Online 

10-day trial; Various service plans 

www.bidnapper.com 

Bidnapper is a Web-based sniping 
service that requires no extra software 
on your computer. All you need is an 
Internet connection, a browser, and 
a subscription to the service. After 
you've signed on, Bidnapper lets you 
set up one or more snipes at its Web 
site, and then it automatically makes 
the bid at the proper time using high- 
speed servers that are continually syn- 
chronized with the eBay clock. Their 
system also takes into account the 












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Setting a snipe with Bidnapper is as easy as navigating to its 
Auction page, entering the auction number and your maximum 
bid, and then letting its Web-based service do the rest. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 217 



More Tools & Features 



amount of current Internet conges- 
tion and eBay traffic to determine 
when to make the snipe bid. During 
heavy traffic times, the bid is made 
sooner, while at lower volume times 
it's made closer to the auction end. 

You can try the Bidnapper service 
free for 10 days by signing up with 
your eBay username, eBay password, 
and email address. No additional in- 
formation is needed during 
the free period. Once your 
account is set up, click the 
Auctions link from the Bid- 
napper menu to go to the 
main Auction sniping page. 
Here you type the eBay num- 
ber of the auction you're in- 
terested in, enter a maximum 
bid price, and click the Snipe 
button. The item is added 
to your auction list, which 
appears along the bottom of 
the window. You can sort the 
auction list by any of the 
column headings, which in- 
clude eBay ID, Description, 
Seller, Quantity, Ending Time, 
Current Bid, Your Bid, and 
Status. To edit a pending snipe 
bid, select the bid and click Edit. You 
can also delete the bid, view the actual 
eBay auction page in a new browser 
window, or update the auction list 
with the latest bid prices from eBay. 
To get more information about the 
seller, click the Seller Profile link to 
display a summary which includes the 
positive and negative feedback num- 
bers and the details of any negative 
feedback the seller has received. 

Besides using the Auction page, 
you can modify your browser toolbar 
to include a Snapper button that lets 
you find an item through the normal 
eBay screen. You can then click to 
have a snipe window open with the 
eBay auction number already entered. 
The snipe window looks just like the 
snipe box on the regular Bidnapper 
screen, and clicking the Add button 
adds the auction to your current snipe 
list. Bidnapper also provides a bulk- 
add feature, which allows you to add 



several items to your snipe list at 
once. In situations where you want to 
snipe a group of items that are the 
same, but only win one, Bidnapper 
has a Contingency Bidding option 
that lets you link snipes together. If an 
item from the group is won, the rest 
of the snipes are deleted. 

One other feature Bidnapper pro- 
vides is called Shadow, and it allows 



























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AuctionSleuth is a buying application that allows you to set 
and track snipes, but it also supports searching and purchasing 
eBay Buy It Now bargains. 



you to create and save keyword or 
seller searches that are updated daily. 
From the Shadow screen, enter your 
keyword, add it to a certain category (if 
you want), and then add it to your 
Shadow list. Click the Update Listing 
Link immediately to perform the 
search and display the results, which 
you can review and choose to delete or 
snipe. Any item you delete will be 
omitted from any future Shadow 
searches. Once created, a search is au- 
tomatically run each night with the re- 
sults available for review each morning. 
If you decide to subscribe to the 
Bidnapper service, but only bid occa- 
sionally, you can purchase 10 winning 
snipes for $19.95 or 25 for $36.95. For 
more extensive bidding, there are 
subscription plans where you can pay 
monthly ($6.95), every 3 months 
($16.95), every 6 months ($26.95), or 
yearly ($45.95). There is also a one- 
month subscription that costs $9.95. 



AuctionSleuth 

AuctionSleuth 

15-day trial; Various service plans 

www.auction-sleuth.com 

AuctionSleuth is a buying tool that 
has sophisticated sniping and search- 
ing capability, but it approaches eBay 
auctions a little differently than most 
other tools. The software is designed 
around the idea that the two 
best ways to win an auction 
are either through sniping or 
through Buy It Now (if you 
can find Buy It Now deals 
when they are first posted). 
The software helps you in 
both situations by providing 
an automated search that re- 
trieves only Buy It Now items 
or items close to the end of 
an auction. 

After you install and launch 
the software, you open a 
Search Configure window and 
set up a new search by en- 
tering the search location 
(eBay, eBay Motors, or Ya- 

hoo!), the type of search (End 

Of Auction or Buy It Now), 
an eBay category, the search criteria, 
the minimum and maximum prices 
you're comfortable with, the type of 
notification alarm, how often the pro- 
gram should update search results, 
and, if it's an End Of Auction search, 
the amount of time before the auction 
ends. Once created, the search is listed 
on the main AuctionSleuth screen, 
which is split to show a tree of auction 
types on the left and search listings on 
the right. After you've created one or 
more searches (200 is the maximum), 
you start them from a button on the 
main toolbar and watch as results 
are retrieved, or you can wait for 
AuctionSleuth to notify you via an 
alarm. AuctionSleuth continues to 
update the search results at preset 
intervals until you tell it to stop. 
With updated results, you're always 
seeing the newest Buy It Now items 
or those items close to the end of 
their auction. 



218 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & 



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The main Auction Sentry screen displays your selected eBay 
auctions in list form, color-coding them to show your current 
bidding and sniping status. 



Once you find an item that inter- 
ests you, double-click it to open a 
browser window that lets you either 
bid directly on the item or set up a 
snipe. If you decide to set up a snipe, 
you can open a snipe window 
showing a list of current snipes. 
(Here, you can also start a new one.) 
In a separate window, you can con- 
figure how close to the auction end 
the snipe should occur. To place the 
snipe bid, your computer must be on, 
but AuctionSleuth automatically han- 
dles connecting to the Internet, log- 
ging onto eBay, and placing the bid. 
Because it's critical to have your com- 
puter clock set to the correct eBay 
time, you can also automatically syn- 
chronize the program and the clock at 
certain intervals. 

You can download a fully func- 
tional 15-day trial version of the pro- 
gram from its Web site. If you decide 
to continue using it, the first year of 
registration is $19.95; after one year, 
there's a yearly subscription fee of 
$9.95. You can also purchase a life- 
time version for $39.95. The program 
requires Windows 98 or newer. 

Add Some Management & Tracking 

A number of buying tools that were 
originally only for sniping have re- 
sponded to market competition by 
adding tracking, monitoring, and 
management features. Although they 



are still mainly for 
sniping, these pro- 
grams have enough 
extra features to make 
them useful for auc- 
tion management, 
even if you don't plan 
to snipe. 



Auction Sentry 

Auction-Sentry.com 
10-day trial; Various 
service plans 
www.auction- 
sentry.com 

Auction Sentry's 

strength lies in snip- 
ing, but it also works 
well as an auction viewer and orga- 
nizer, letting you choose what auc- 
tions to monitor and displaying 
them in a grid on your screen. Auc- 
tion Sentry does not automatically 
connect to the Internet, so before 
you start using the program, you 
need to make and maintain the con- 
nection yourself. 

When starting the program the first 
time, you'll have to select various set- 
tings, including your eBay username 
and password, the auction refresh rate 
(how often you want auction infor- 
mation is automatically updated), 
snipe time, various alert settings, and 
automatic time synchronization. 

Once you have everything config- 
ured, it's time to add the auctions. To 
add an auction, enter the eBay auc- 
tion number into the program, and 
Auction Sentry automatically pulls 
down the information. You can also 
add auctions directly from your My 
eBay Items I'm Watching list, add all 
the auctions from a particular seller, 
or add all auctions that you are cur- 
rently bidding on. Once loaded, auc- 
tions appear in list form on the main 
screen and are color-coded to indicate 
your bidding status. For example, red 
indicates you are outbid, green shows 
you are the current high bidder or 
have won an auction, and yellow indi- 
cates you have a snipe set for the auc- 
tion. The screen also displays options 



for showing only auctions that are 
currently open or have already ended. 
Auction information is automatically 
updated at the interval you set on the 
option screen. 

From the main screen, you can up- 
date the auctions you are tracking, 
place an instant bid or a snipe, cancel a 
snipe, create or edit notes about an 
auction, or open a separate browser 
window to view auction details or bid 
history. Auction Sentry also lets you 
save a set of auctions as a separate file, 
allowing you to organize auctions into 
viewing groups. Once a snipe bid is set, 
Auction Sentry requires that you have 
your computer on and connected to 
the Internet and that Auction Sentry is 
running. The program does not auto- 
matically connect or use an online 
server to store your snipe information. 

For more features and easier addi- 
tion of auction items, the Deluxe 
Edition of Auction Sentry adds a 
built-in browser that includes a one- 
click option for adding auctions to 
your list, the ability to create bid 
groups where snipes are performed 
on each item until you win, support 
for multiple eBay IDs, and a screen 
grid you can customize to show only 
the columns you want. 

Auction Sentry costs $14.95 to 
download, and you can purchase a 
CD of the program for $19.95. The 
Deluxe Edition costs $10 more than 
the Standard Edition, or $24.95 for a 
download and $29.95 for a CD; how- 
ever, you must relicense Auction 
Sentry Deluxe Edition each year at a 
cost of $9.99. Fully functional, 10-day 
trial versions of both the Standard or 
Deluxe Editions of Auction Sentry 
are available for download. To use 
the software, you'll need Windows 95 
or newer. 

SnipeRight 

Legendary Software 

20-day trial; Various service plans 

www.sniperight.com 

As a highly regarded sniping tool, 
SnipeRight Professional makes the 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 219 



More Tools & Features 



■ SnipeRight GOLD Edition 



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task of setting up an 
auction snipe as simple 
as finding an item, 
clicking a button, and 
then logging off to have 
lunch. But as you might 
guess, there's a lot more 
you can do. The Snipe- 
Right design is based 
upon the Internet Ex- 
plorer interface, but it 
adds a left pane of var- 
ious folders (such as 
Snipe, Bidding, and 
Watching), as well as a 
series of specialized but- 
tons that are intermixed 
with the regular browser 
buttons. To start, you 
can download your My 
eBay list of Watch Items and Bid 
Items directly into the program and 
set up a snipe on any item in the list. 

Once you've set up the snipe, you 
can enter a maximum bid, set how 
many seconds left before the bid is 
made, and add the item to a snipe 
group. When an item is added to a 
snipe group, if any in the group is 
won, snipping for the other items is 
automatically cancelled. This lets you 
focus on multiple items at the same 
time, with the assurance you'll only 
really win one item. 

To set snipes on new items, 
SnipeRight provides a search box 
that works like eBay's. Enter some 
keywords and click the search but- 
ton, and you'll see the results dis- 
played on the eBay screen inside the 
SnipeRight window. As with your 
watched items, you can set a snipe on 
anything you see or add the item to a 
list of favorites. 

Once a snipe is set, it appears on 
the program's active snipe list, mak- 
ing it easy to track and, if necessary, 
change or cancel. Because the pro- 
gram uses the SnipeRight servers to 
store your snipe information and 
make the bid, you don't need to leave 
your computer connected to the 
Internet or worry about synchro- 
nizing your system clock with eBay's. 



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Even though you download and install the SnipeRight application to select and 
snipe eBay auctions, the snipe information is stored on servers that perform the 
snipe even if your computer is turned off. 



decide a program is right 
for you, you can pay on- 
line without having to 
download anything else. 
Cost for the Professional 
version is $19.95 and, 
for the Gold Edition, 
$129.95 (and there's a 
$14.95 annual fee for the 
Gold Edition). To run 
the program, you need 
Win98 or newer. 

AuctionTamer 

Envision Software 
14-day trial; Various 
service plans 
www.auctiontamer.com 



To keep sniping naysayers happy, 
SnipeRight includes what it calls a 
Friendly Mode that submits occasional 
bids during the auction, giving anyone 
who views the history the impression 
you've been making bids all along. To 
keep from pushing up the price too 
much, you can set how many in- auc- 
tion bids the program makes and the 
percentage price increase. 

Although sniping is its main pur- 
pose, SnipeRight also includes sim- 
ple features for tracking favorites, 
tracking your auction payments and 
receipts, and automatically leaving 
feedback. Upgrading to the Gold 
Edition gives even more features, in- 
cluding the ability to access multiple 
eBay accounts, a more advanced 
search tool, automatic auction pay- 
ment through PayPal, notification of 
auction status through email, and au- 
tomatic currency conversion. It also 
includes a feature called the Score 
Card that analyses a seller's feedback 
rating, time on eBay, and other pro- 
file information and gives the seller a 
grade, helping you weed out the good 
from the bad. 

There are 20-day, fully functional 
trial versions of both SnipeRight 
Professional and SnipeRight Gold 
Edition available for download from 
the programs' Web site, and if you 



AuctionTamer is a 
full-featured buying and selling tool 
that makes managing and watching 
multiple auctions and auction sites 
much easier. The program includes a 
built-in browser, eBay clock synchro- 
nization, the ability to select auction 
items to watch, multiple auction 
search capability, and bidding or 
sniping features. The AuctionTamer 
screen is divided into two main areas: 
a browser window on the top and a 
Watch List window on the bottom. 
The general idea is that you use the 
browser to find an item and then add 
it to your Watch List. Of course, 
there's a lot more to it than that. Your 
first priority is to open the Pref- 
erences window and set some impor- 
tant options, including your eBay 
User ID, default eBay site, browser 
home page, which Web-based snipe 
service to use, and which auction sites 
to access (it supports several other 
auctions sites such as Amazon.com, 
Yahoo!, and BidVille), to name a few. 
You can also customize the Auction- 
Tamer screen, including customizing 
what details are shown for an item on 
the Watch List. 

With the preferences set, you're 
ready to add auctions to the Watch 
List. The browser window has tabs for 
some common auctions sites, in- 
cluding eBay, and you can customize 



220 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



it to include any site not already 
there. When you click the eBay tab, 
you're at the eBay top page, and from 
there, you can either use the standard 
eBay search or click the browser 
Search button to display a special 
window that lets you search multiple 
auction sites at the same time. When 
you find an item, click the browser's 
Add button, and it's added to the 
Watch List. You can also add an item 
directly from the eBay search list by 
clicking and dragging the item link to 
the Watch List window. 

The Watch List consists of eight tabs 
that let you select exactly which items 
you want to see. When you add an 
item, it's first placed on the Open tab, 
or if you're the seller, it's added to the 
Selling tab. When the auction closes, it 
automatically moves to the Won, 
Closed, Sold, or Not Sold tab. You can 
also customize tabs to create your own 
organized lists of items. The Watch 
List displays the most important 



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The browser displays the eBay auc- 
tion page and your bid is automatically 
filled in, once you complete the My 
Bid column, and to complete the 
process, click Confirm Bid in the 
browser window. For snipe bids, 
AuctionTamer uses one of the Web- 
based services listed in the Preferences 
section. Before you can snipe, sign up 
with one of the services and then enter 
your user ID information in the pro- 
gram preferences. To snipe, you select 
the item, fill in the My Bid column, 
and click Snipe, and the snipe infor- 
mation is automatically copied to the 
snipe service page, which is now dis- 
played in the browser window. To 
complete the snipe, move to the 
browser window and click a confirma- 
tion button. Since the snipe service is 
Web-based, your computer doesn't 
need to be on or connected to the 
Internet when the snipe bid is placed. 

Although we've focused mainly on 
the buyer side of AuctionTamer, the 
program includes a 
large number of selling 
tools, especially if you 
upgrade the program 
with the Seller Add- On 
package, which has a 
higher monthly and 
yearly subscription rate. 
AuctionTamer requires 
Win95 or better. To 
continue using the buy- 
er's program, the cost is 
$2.95 per month or 
$24.95 per year. 



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As a full-featured auction management tool, AuctionTamer 
displays a split screen that includes a built-in browser and 
auction watch list with tabs that let you select which items 
you want to view. 



Research Is Key 



details of an item, including the Time 
Left, Last Bid, Number Of Bids, High 
Bidder, and Buy It Now status. When 
you select an item, buttons above the 
list let you delete it, and you can also 
display the seller's other items, view 
seller feedback or history, email the 
seller, or snipe the item. 



Inexperienced eBay 
buyers often jump into 

the bidding fray without 

doing their homework, 
which in the eBay world means doing 
auction research. The more particu- 
lars you know about an item and 
who's selling it, the more intelligent 
your buying decisions will be. 
Searching through eBay's current and 
past auctions and reviewing seller 
feedback is a big help, but there are a 



few extra tools you can use to give 
your research an edge. 

BayCheck 

Free Standard version; $19.99 for the 
Professional version 
HammerTap 
www.hammertap.com 

eBay buying tools don't have to be 
sophisticated or complex to be useful, 
and that's certainly true for BayCheck. 
The program has one purpose: to give 
you a bird's-eye view of a user's eBay 
history. Yes, the information is avail- 
able through the regular eBay inter- 
face, but BayCheck gives you access to 
that information all in one place and 
lets you sort it in ways that eBay 
doesn't offer. Plus, it provides a user's 
bidding history, something that's 
tough to get through the eBay Web 
site. As a way to verify who you're 
dealing with, it can be a big help. 

When you start the program, the 
main window has a User ID box you 
manually fill with the eBay ID you're 
interested in knowing more about. 
Click the Check button, and the user's 
information is displayed. You can 
separately view Seller History, Bidder 
History, Feedback Received, and 
Feedback Left For Others by selecting 
the appropriate tab. For each, you can 
sort the options in various ways. You 
also have several options for what 
time period should be used. 

To get a few extra features, you can 
update to BayCheck Pro for $19.99. (A 
30-day trial of BayCheck Pro is avail- 
able.) Besides everything the standard 
version offers, you'll have more sort 
options, an extra tab for just browsing 
eBay, an option to save your favorite 
buyers and sellers, the ability to access 
international eBay sites, and (what is 
probably the nicest feature), an option 
for seeing only negative or neutral 
feedback. This last feature is great for 
users that have hundreds or even 
thousands of feedback entries, and 
you want to see the negative without 
having to scroll through pages and 
pages of feedback comments. 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 221 



More Tools & Features 



To run the software, you 
need Win95 or better. 

SmartCollector 

14-day trial; Various 
subscription plans 
SmartCollector LLC 
www.smartcol lector.com 



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Veteran eBay buyers and 
sellers know that one critical 
factor in getting the best deal is 
knowing what an item is worth. 
eBay provides a completed 
listing search just for this 
reason, but it only provides his- 
torical data for the past 15 days. 
This is where SmartCollector 
comes in. SmartCollector is a 
Web -based service that gathers 
and analyzes up to three years 
of eBay collectible and antique 
transaction data, and it makes 
the results available to those 
who want to discover the value 
of their collection or make good 
decisions about what they want 
to purchase or sell. Unlike eBay 
historical searches, Smart- 
Collector only includes data 
from successful auctions, giv- 
ing a better view of an item's 
real market value. The only real 
limitation is that the service 
collects auction data only from 

the eBay collectible and an- 

tique categories. 

SmartCollector provides three dif- 
ferent services: Value It, Trend It, and 
Manage It. Value It lets you search 
historical data to determine a single 
item's real value. When using Value 
It, you'll enter keywords describing 
your item and then choose how far 
back the search should go, with 
choices ranging from 15 to 120 days. 
When the search is complete, a sum- 
mary screen displays an estimated 
value range, a price accuracy rating, 
and the number of items found sorted 
by price range and eBay category. You 
also have options to refine the search, 
view a detailed list of found items, or 
chart the results. The item list displays 



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Smart Collector is a service that lets you search and analyze up to 
three years worth of eBay historical antique and collectible data, 
providing a true look at an item's value or selling trends. 



the title, close date, duration, bid 
number, opening price, and final 
price of the auction. You can click an 
item to see its details, choose to find 
similar items in the SmartCollector 
database, or see a detailed bid record 
showing the bid history of an item, 
including the true proxy amounts. 

If you chart your search results, you 
have options to display time-based 
graphs showing the average daily price, 
bid volumes, and sales counts. Al- 
though this feature is more useful to 
sellers, it can show potential buyers if 
the average price of an item is moving 
up or down and help them make deci- 
sions on when to buy. 



Trend It, the second tool 
offered by SmartCollector, fo- 
cuses on collectable and an- 
tique market trends using 
three years of eBay historical 
data that the service updates 
every quarter. Rather than 
provide specific pricing infor- 
mation, it organizes and ana- 
lyzes data by eBay category, 
providing customized graphs 
showing auction volume, Buy 
It Now trends, bid volumes, 
total sales, average price, and 
maximum price. For the buy- 
er, it can help make decisions 
regarding what antique and 
collectible categories are the 
best investment and also pro- 
vide historical views that aid 
in knowing when to get the 
best buy. 

The last SmartCollector tool, 
Manage It, is an online database 
system that helps you track and 
value your inventory or collec- 
tion. Using a Web -based inter- 
face, enter the details of your 
item, including price and cate- 
gory information, or directly 
import an item you purchased 
through eBay from the auction 
page. You can also include pic- 
tures with an item descrip- 
tion. Once in your inventory, 
— Manage It tracks the value of 
your items by comparing them 
to the SmartCollector database of his- 
torical data. 

A 14-day trial of all three services is 
available at www.smartcollector.com, 
and the basic Value It service, which 
includes only 15 days of eBay histor- 
ical data, is free. For the full Value It 
and Trend It tools you pay $4.95 per 
month. If you want to use Manage It, 
there are various plans that offer dif- 
ferent storage amounts, starting at 
$8.95 per month. All of the Mange 
It subscriptions include both the 
Value It and Trend It services at no 
additional charge. H 

by John Lortz and Susan Leavitt 



222 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 



More Tools & Features 



Tools & 

Resources For 

Developers 

The eBay "Platform" 



Since its beginning, eBay has pro- 
vided a user-friendly interface 
for both sides of the auction 
process. But for those buyers and 
sellers who need more, eBay provides 
an API (Application Programming 
Interface) that allows third-party ap- 
plications to directly access the eBay 
platform and database. 

The eBay API & SDK 

The eBay API is a set of program 
functions contained in a DLL (dy- 
namic-link library) on the eBay servers 
that gives access to data in the eBay 
database. With the eBay API, you can 
use just about any programming lan- 
guage with any operating system if the 
language allows communication across 
the Internet using HTTPS, allows 
passing strings to and from the eBay 
server, and can embed data values in 
the HTTPS header. 

To make using the API easier, eBay 
developed the eBay SDK (Software 
Developer's Kit) for Windows, a down- 
loadable set of .NET object classes, 
COM (communications) components, 
documentation, and sample applica- 
tions that let developers who are fa- 
miliar with OOP (object-oriented 
programming) bypass the complexities 
of HTTPS and XML. Developers can 
use just about any Windows program- 
ming language, including Visual Basic, 
C++, Java, Perl, and PHP, and either 
Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL 
Server for their database system. 



With the SDK, developers create the 
appropriate class object, assign the 
values they want to send to the eBay 
platform to the object proper- 
ties, and then call a class method 
to send the data. Behind the 
scenes, the SDK creates the ap- 
propriate XML document and 
sends the request to the eBay 
API via the HTTPS protocol. For 
returning data, developers use a 
method which creates a re- 
ceiving object that has properties 
populated with return values the 
developer wants, making XML 
parsing unnecessary. 



2003 introduction of the eBay SDK for 
Windows, over 13,000 developers have 
joined the Developer Program, and 
over 800 live applications have been re- 
leased to the public through the eBay 
Solutions center (www.solutions.ebay 
.com), a library of eBay applications. 

Taking It Live 

When your application is finished, 
eBay must certify it before you take it 
live. Although eBay places few restric- 
tions on what your program does, it 
must conform to eBay policies and to 
the Developer License Agreement. 
Certification costs vary with the mem- 
bership type, but they range from free 





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The eBay Developers Program 



To get started with the SDK or 
the API, you must first join the 
eBay Developers Program 
(www.developer.ebay.com). Annual 
membership for Individuals is free and 
includes 50 free API calls per day. Pay- 
for memberships, including Basic, 
Professional, and Enterprise, are also 
available. For a list of membership types 
and fees, visit developer.ebay.com/dev 
program/membership/services.asp. 

For all membership levels, developers 
can access downloads, documentation, 
and support forums. The program also 
provides the security keys necessary to 
use the eBay platform, as well as access 
to the eBay Sandbox, a testing site for 
your application. According to Jeffrey 
McManus, eBay's senior manager of 
platform evangelism, since the July 



Signing up for the eBay Developers Program is free and 
provides developers with downloads, documentation, 
and samples for using the eBay API and SDK. 



to $200. The process involves com- 
pleting an API Usage Document de- 
scribing the purpose and function of 
your application. Then it is submitted 
to eBay Developer Technical Support, 
which reviews the application and, if 
necessary, offers suggestions. According 
to McManus, the certification process is 
not a code walkthrough but instead a 
form of technical support where eBay 
helps you make the application more 
efficient. Once the program is certified, 
you receive Production security keys 
that let you access the live eBay plat- 
form, and you are off and running. Qjs] 

by John Lortz and Susan Leavitt 



Reference Series / Guide To eBay 223 



QrVO^ 




The organized chaos of eBay is a refleo weight loss cures), wacky money makers through this area of cyberspace. 



tion of the human condition. There are 
few other places in cyberspace that give 
such an in-depth glimpse into primal 
desires (see: hundreds of listings for 



("Fully functional kidney for donation"), 
and outright truth-is-stranger-than-fic- 
tion stories that emerge from the mil- 
lions of auction listings that pass 



Without further ado, here are some 
eBay listings that have gained notoriety 
for their stupidity, desperation, insanity, 
or outright strangeness. 



The Weird 

One man was desperate to auction a life-sized cardboard 
cutout of Elvis because his wife was obsessed with it. She 
kept it next to the couple's bed at night, certain that the 
Elvis was speaking to her through his image. To help his 
wife get past her problem, the sell- 
er's only condition was this: "I am 
asking the winner to write a letter 
to my wife explaining that they are 
taking the ghost of Elvis with them 
and she can rest peacefully!" 

The Stupid 

First came a grilled cheese sand- 
wich with the likeness of the Virgin 
Mary — after receiving nearly 2 mil- 
lion hits on eBay, the item sold for 
$28,000. Then came imitators 
looking to cash in on the seller's 
success, in the form of bandwagon 
"Virgin Mary sandwich memora- 
bilia," or even cheesier ideas, such 
as the guy selling a Lucifer's Hot 
Pocket, which was a pizza pastry 
with the supposed likeness of the 
devil burned into the "flaky, deli- 
cious crust." Unlike the grilled 
cheese sandwich auction, bidding 
for this item wasn't heated. The pocket sold for $137.19. 

The Desperate 

There have been many "name our baby" eBay auctions, 
and the trend continues unabated. Couples desperate to 
conceive a child, but unable to do so naturally, turn to an 
expensive in-vitro fertilization procedure that's not cov- 
ered by most health insurance policies. By donating a large 
sum of cash (often running into the thousands of dollars), 
the winning bidder can choose the baby's first and last 
name — within reason, of course. 




The Broke 

One man bought 266 pairs of silk pajamas from 
Thailand with the intention of reselling the items in 
the United States. Unfortunately, the pajamas were ac- 
tually "Thai silk" (a mixture of rayon and polyester) 
and the sizes were intended for the 
slighter build of Asian women, 
and thus, were far too small for 
average-sized American women. 
The seller spent $3,000 on the 
original shipment, yet the starting 
bid for the pajama disaster was 
only $999. 

The Strange 

A cat doesn't really need all of its 
nine lives, right? So why not auc- 
tion off one of those lives on eBay? 
That's exactly what the owner of a 
rag- doll cat did in hopes of raising 
some extra cash to pay for veteri- 
nary expenses resulting for treat- 
ment of her kitty's herpes infection. 
The winning bidder spent $50 to 
nab the cat's apparently unneces- 
sary ninth life. 

The Rare 

When 1.5 inches of snow fell on Brownsville, Texas on 
Christmas, an enterprising resident saw more than an 
opportunity to scoop sidewalks. The 23 -year-old man 
created a two -pound snowball made from the "miracle 
snow" and immediately started an Ebay auction to off- 
load the goods. The winning bid was $73, plus $20 to 
ship the snow in an ice chest, [ijs] 

by Nathan Chandler 



224 www.smartcomputing.com / Guide To eBay 




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